The Black Operator is a project by composer/producer Mark Phillips with current and former members of The Mars Volta, Descendents, Jawbox, The Eagles Of Death Metal, The Shins, Nine Inch Nails, Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Cross and legendary Bowie Keyboardist Mike Garson.
Mark Phillips AKA The Black Operator came into the world in Santa Monica California and was raised in Berlin Germany and Washington DC. The product of a complicated family tree with heroes and villains on every branch, his path was destined to be the one less travelled. He was trained classically but grew up in an environment where Funkadelic, Kiss and the Bee Gees got equal rotation.
At the age of 11, Phillips discovered D.C. punk pioneers Bad Brains thanks to a chance encounter with a group of Rastafarians that worked at the nearby commissary. That was a life altering event. “Things kicked into high gear” he explains.. “I saw these 4 black guys that looked like me and sounded like nothing I’d heard before. It started me down a path of unbounded exploration and creativity and I haven’t stopped exploring and creating since”.
He played in bands in the DC area, but eventually sought to return to his native California in search of doing music full time. Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, Phillips ran into Henry Rollins walking down on Sunset Blvd and struck up a conversation which ended up being a game changer. Rollins was on an unexpected hiatus due to some Rollins Band shows being cancelled at the last minute. Phillips refers to the period as “Black Flag summer school”. “Hanging out with Henry really helped me make connections within my various disparate artistic instincts, the idea that Nick Cave, Bad Brains and John Coltrane not only had points of intersection, but that their influence could be drawn upon simultaneously... in a band or on an album or a song or just one lyric. Before that point, those things all lived separately in my toolbox, Henry got me thinking about one big toolbox”.
Phillips went on to play in bands, mostly in the hardcore punk scene with Shawn Stern from Youth Brigade in Thats It, Jack Grisham from TSOL in Joykiller and Dave Smalley from Dag Nasty and ALL in Down By Law. Eventually after having a song placed in a movie, he got curious about wanting to create and produce his own music, he went back to school to pursue his newfound interest enrolling in UCLA Extension for Film Scoring. A quick learner, he ended up excelling at orchestral writing and landed a gig right away with his teacher and mentor Lee Sanders on the show The Amazing Race. That led to a gig with Vanacore Music and composing for over 1,000 shows TV shows. Always seeking new opportunity, Phillips also began an ongoing collaborative relationship with composers Jeffrey Fayman and Yoav Goren of Immediate Music and has worked on numerous projects with them.
Recently, Phillips started playing guitar with a different set of Dag Nasty Alums, Peter Cortner and Doug Carrion in a new project they are calling Field Day. The band will be coming playing near you in 2019. Phillips also is getting ready to release a concept album, The Black Operator. The album was years in the making and features a who’s who of rock and roll superheroes. The making of the album and the relationships that were forged laid the ground for a project coming in 2020 called Bowie Re-imagined which is an album of Bowie songs recorded by former touring Bowie alumni and orchestra and choir in Reykjavik, Iceland.