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Thursday 11 June 2015

Lecturer plays bass for film soundtrack

Brixton cinema hosted a star-studded premiere of London Road on Tuesday, a musical centred on events surrounding the arrest and conviction of Steve Wright, the serial killer who murdered five women in Ipswich in 2006.

The film, out in selected cinemas tomorrow (12 June), includes a soundtrack featuring Professor Pete Wilson, Senior Lecturer at Southampton Solent University, on bass guitar.

Professor Pete Wilson recording bass guitar for London Road

Directed by Rufus Norris and featuring stars such as Tom Hardy, Olivia Coleman and Anita Dobson, London Road uses the residents’ own words – down to every ‘um’ and ‘erm’ – to explain what went on in the now notorious street as police hunted for and arrested Wright.

Pete says: “The process of recording this film’s music was unusual – it was all back-to-front. Normally in a recording session singers perform with a band that’s either live or pre-recorded. In this instance, though, the cast had already sung all the songs on location to an accompanist playing a piano.”

“Recording the band after that, to fit the pre-existing vocal performances, is definitely a pressurised situation. There’s no time for errors – so if you’re not the sort of person who gets off on studio red-light fever I imagine it would be quite painful,” adds Pete. “Luckily, I really like that intense focus.”

For the past twenty years Pete has balanced an academic career with playing bass guitar in a variety of pop and classical settings.

As well as playing for BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, American Composers Orchestra (Carnegie Hall) and in several BBC Proms (Royal Albert Hall), he has played bass for dance companies that include The Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Scottish Ballet, Random Dance and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company.

Pop credits include Brian Eno, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Melanie C, Rufus Wainwright, and playing Sir Paul McCartney’s violin bass in Abbey Road Studio 2 in front of the man himself.

“Having played in all sorts of musical contexts I’d like to think students get quite a broad perspective from me on the musician’s life,” Pete says. “And of course it gives me concrete examples and specific scenarios to back up more theoretical discussions.”

“I also hope that my working at a certain level in the industry might inspire the odd student to do the same. I try to be as transparent as possible about how it works for me and the skills I think are necessary to drive a long career. But I’m also happy to admit that everyone’s situation is unique and what works for me might not be the case for others.”

A Cuba Pictures / National Theatre production, London Road is produced by Dixie Linder, and executive produced by Nick Marston, Tally Garner and David Sabel. BBC Films, the BFI Film Fund, Arts Council England and LipSync financed the project.

For further information contact the media office on 02382 013079 or email

Photo of the cast by Agatha A. Nitecka.