Mark Kates has been a central figure in the genre of alternative music since before it even had a name. He has worked in A&R, promotion, marketing, been both label head and owner, and now is primarily an artist manager.
Kates grew up in the Boston area, where Mission of Burma‘s music inspired him to work for their label Ace of Hearts. From there he moved to Big Time Records in Los Angeles and worked with artists like Love and Rockets, Alex Chilton, and the Hoodoo Gurus. That was followed by a 10-year run at Geffen Records, where he created the alternative promotion department, eventually segueing to A&R and playing a significant role in the development of the alternative radio format. He signed Beck, Jawbreaker, Elastica, Alabama 3 and others. He brought Sonic Youth to Geffen and A&R’d albums by them as well as Nirvana, Hole, Teenage Fanclub, XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees, White Zombie and many others, as well as co-executive producing the soundtracks for Beavis and Butt-head Do America and Suburbia. Kates left Geffen in 1998 to run Grand Royal Records for the Beastie Boys, working with them as well as artists like Sean Lennon and Luscious Jackson.
In 2001 he returned to Boston and established Fenway Recordings, a music management company. Coincidentally, Mission of Burma decided to reunite that year and he again works with them, as well as MGMT, The Cribs, and others.
As “DJ Carbo,” he is resident and curator of The Fenway Recordings Sessions, a live concert series produced by Crossroads Presents that has brought over 400 shows to Boston since 2004, including headliners Diplo, fun., Hot Chip, Echo and the Bunnymen, Dum Dum Girls, Wolfmother, Two Door Cinema Club, MGMT, and many more. In 2012 the series was expanded to include a livestream initiative with MTV Hive.
(by Josh Rosenthal)