Long story short: What local musician Wolfgang Zimmerman started with friends back in 2009 as a recording studio in a Line Street storage unit and moved to a Montford Avenue garage, morphed into Rialto Row studio and has since reverted back to its original concept, The Space.
The continuous collaborations at The Space have solidified Zimmerman as a prolific Charleston producer who’s left his stamp on a vast variety of local and regional music over the last 12 some years.
COVID played its part in derailing Rialto Row’s expansion to a recording label, and with things on pause, it occurred to Zimmerman that he didn’t necessarily want to expand.
“I realized I had no business being part of a record label or signing people,” Zimmerman told City Paper. “All I wanted to do was record music.”
One of his first projects of note was with emo-country group Sequoyah Prep School for the 2008 album, Ghost Town, which Zimmerman helped record out of his basement studio in Rock Hill after he befriended frontman Justin Osborne.
Zimmerman ended up in Charleston starting Brave Baby with Keon Masters and friends as Osborne formed Susto with friends, and the rest is history.
“Everybody started getting together in the early 2010s, and it led to where we are now,” Zimmerman said.
Fast forward to Band of Horses’ frontman Ben Bridwell taking an interest in the sounds coming out of The Space, and Zimmerman has since solidified his alliance with some of the most well-known South Carolina rock bands.
After many twists and delays, the Band of Horses project he’s had his hand in, Things Are Great, is slated for release Jan. 21.
“[It’s] this really gnarly acid rock — a little bit dirgey, a little more on the strange side, really earthy,” Zimmerman said. “The album has a heaviness about it.”
Things being great despite the heaviness of life is a concept Zimmerman said he’s familiar with.
“I’ve never had any guarantees,” he said. “I’m really resilient to change. If anything, I embrace chance. I think it’s beautiful.”
“I think life rewards the brave. I always try to tell people who are looking for encouragement to do what they love: You can’t have any backup plans. If you have no backup plans, you will fight to make sure it works out.”
Playing music at an early age is what got him into recording. His obsession with the drums led to his first kit around age 10, which took a summer of mowing lawns with his mom to acquire. Then she got him a little tape recording machine, and he developed his skills enough that by the end of high school, he knew he didn’t want to go to college, he just wanted to do music.
And though he established himself as a sound engineer, the more he worked with musicians, his instincts and tastes became well-tuned.
“Slowly I realized people leaned on me like a lowkey therapist,” he said of being asked for direction. “One of my favorite things someone can say in the studio is, ‘Wow I never thought we could make this.’ In the next year or so I’d like to not even be on the computer at all. I just want to encourage people to make their best work.”
But that’s not to say he isn’t writing. His past single, “Paper Trails,” is evidence of his affinity for spacey dance grooves, but it was in picking back up the guitar and experimenting with some weird tunings that he was sent down a different path.
“I’ve been developing this whole sound, so it’s hard for me to go back to the ‘Paper Trails’ stuff. This other stuff I’m working on, it goes down this other rabbit hole I really like a lot. I honestly think it’s more original and more my thing.”