Composer, producer and guitarist of the legendary L.A. pioneers Fishbone, Mark Phillips came into the world in Los Angeles, California and was raised in Berlin, Germany and Washington, D.C. 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 from a young age but grew up in an environment where Funkadelic, Kiss, and the Bee Gees got equal rotation.
After years of piano lessons, clarinet lessons, drum corps, and summer sessions at Berklee College of Music, he became determined to make a career out of music. He began to play in local bands in the D.C. area and gig throughout the region most notably The Young Caucasians A clever mashup of DC’s own unique funky go go music and straight up indie pop. After graduating high school and realizing that the band wasn’t getting enough traction, the young musician set his sights on bigger things. It was time to return to his native California to explore the opportunities of the big leagues.
Shortly after arriving back in Los Angeles, Phillips ran into Henry Rollins walking down on Sunset Blvd and struck up a conversation which led to a friendship that became a game changer. Phillips refers to the period as ‘summer school.’ “Hanging out with Henry really helped me make connections within my various artistic instincts, the idea that most music and art have points of intersection, and that disparate influences and inspirations could be drawn upon simultaneously… Before that point, those things all lived separately in my toolbox, Henry got me thinking about one big toolbox.”
He spent the 90’s as a guitarist and vocalist touring and recording around the world in bands like Down By Law, The Joykiller and Cheater often opening for bands like Blur, Sublime, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Social Distortion, Stone Temple Pilots, No Doubt, and The Offspring, however he couldn’t seem to find the right outlet or the right timing for his creative ambitions. It was fortuitous timing when a friend was music supervising on a slasher film called “Headless Body, Topless Bar” and asked Phillips to contribute a track to the soundtrack. Thrilled (and a little shocked) by the fee he received and the new idea that he could earn a living licensing his music to visual media, he began to seek out other ways to work in Film and TV.
Phillips went back to school to pursue his newfound interest in music production for Film and TV. He enrolled concurrently in Soundmaster (now Pinnacle College) for Audio Engineering and UCLA Extension for Film Scoring. A quick study, 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, a dominant player in the production music space. A chance encounter in his Santa Monica neighborhood led to an ongoing collaborative relationship with leading trailer composers Jeffrey Fayman and Yoav Goren of Immediate Music. Together with Fayman and Goren, Phillips worked on numerous television, trailer and advertising projects and co-created the prestigious 1 Revolution catalog. With a solid track record in under his belt, Phillips began branching out composing for projects for Universal, Liquid Cinema, BMG, Mastersource and many others. At last count, Phillips has written and produced about 4,500 in use in over 1,000 TV shows, trailers films, and ads.
Phillips is also preparing 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 Black Operator album and the relationships that were forged laid the ground for a project coming in 2020 called Bowie Reimagined which is an album of David Bowie songs co-produced with the esteemed hit maker David Kahne and performed by former Bowie touring and recording alumni Omar Hakim, Mike Garson, Carmine Rojas, Gerry Leonard and Grammy Winner Gaby Moreno.
Most recently Phillips, a long time friend of the band, got the call of a lifetime to play guitar in one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, Fishbone. Fishbone plans to release new music and tour in 2020.