Tom Gates has packed quite a bit of experiences into his life so far. Gates grew up in Connecticut, aching to leave a Republican, middle-class, gun-toting home for cities that smelled like concrete and urine. He was a true nerd, playing in the marching band and reading Stephen King novels under his bedsheets with a flashlight at 4 a.m. Nerdy-ness being all the rage now, he embraces this. Then, during the braces-and-retainer-and-feathered-hair-years, he was largely miserable, like a character that Morrissey takes pity on in his most tragic songs. An obsession with music led him to his college campus radio station, which led him down the path of The Devil Music, rock & roll. He quickly integrated himself into the music industry through internships, flying to LA to catch shows while ditching class, funded with the money he’d made working in a hospital emergency room. Along the way he picked up a degree in teaching children, which was probably the correct degree necessary for working with practicing musicians. A four-year stint promoting death metal somehow landed him at Arista Records, the biggest pop machine of the 90’s. While there he promoted artists like Sarah McLachlan, Dido, Patti Smith and Annie Lennox. He flipped to a management company in 1998 and continued doing promotion, for the likes of Coldplay, Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, DJ Tiesto and Sum 41. Gates switched to managing bands in 2002. His clients included Long Island indie-sensation Brand New, nerdcore pioneer MC Lars and Shortbus alum Jay Brannan. He also managed The Format, an experience that takes up a chapter of the book and includes both death and a tough breakup. By 2008 he had let both New York and the music industry eat him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bloated, bored and beaten, he took to writing as an escape. After writing a few blogs for online travel giant Matador Travel Network, he was approached to write on staff. Two months later he was asked to be an editor. One day later he quit his job, sold everything he owned and kissed the bands that he formerly managed goodbye.
His mission was to travel twelve countries in twelve months, one month at a time. The word count from the trip would end up being his debut book, Wayward. During the year he would visit Argentina, Chile, Laos, Thailand, India, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain. Gates is inspired by the snark of David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction, the punk rock spirit of Dave Eggers, and the audacity of Augusten Burroughs. He cites several travel books as touchstones, including Paul Theroux’s The Old Patagonian Express, Beryl Markham’s West With the Night, Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad and J. Maarten Troost’s Getting Stoned with Savages. He reads Lonely Planet with the fervor that most people read porn. Having returned to the USA after his trip and purchasing essential living luxuries (bed, can-opener, microwave) he dove back into music, while remaining an editor at Matador. During the year of 2010 he discovered pop star Christina Perri, who had been working in a coffee shoppreviously. He also took under his wing a trio of folk-rockers from Philadelphia, Good Old War. His new adventures in music management have taken him around the world again and again, thus continuing his round-the-world adventure. Gates lives in Los Angeles, continues to write and travel, and has a hankering to write a follow-up to Wayward. He is a flight risk.