In 1986 Tom graduated with honours from Harvard University with a degree in political science. He moved to L.A with the intention of joining or starting a band. He joined a band called Electric Sheep with soon-to-be-guitarist for Tool Adam Jones. While in L.A, Tom's roommate was Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan.
In 1988 he joined Lock Up, who released one album through Geffen records before splitting up. Afterward, Tom called Brad Wilk who had auditioned for Lock Up interested in forming a band. First meeting Zack de la Rocha at an LA club, where Zack was rapping, it was not long before Tim Commerford was called and Rage Against The Machine was created.