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Published on September 19th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Metronome Charleston Anniversary: Elim Bolt

When we first met Elim Bolt frontman Johnnie Matthews in late 2010, he’d just made the move from the South Carolina Midlands where he’d been playing bass with Florence-based indie pop/rock band Sequoya Prep School. Matthews began playing bass with songwriter Brian Hannon’s band CO (a.k.a Company) that year as well, but by late 2011, the Elim Bolt wheels where turning fast.

Matthews grew up on a farm in Elim, a small town south of Florence. We’re glad he bolted from Elim and landed in the Lowcountry with his bold songwriting skills, echo-laden amps, and quivering singing style.


After putting a solo EP titled Felix out there in 2011, he assembled the first version of Elim Bolt with a solid crew comprised of drummer Ryan “Wolfgang” Zimmerman, bassist Christian Chidester, guitarist Jordan Hicks, and vocalist Amber Joyner. Drummer Michael McCrea took turns laying down the drum tracks with Zimmerman during the sessions for Elim Bolt’s brilliant, seven-song Nude South, their debut on the newly stablished Hearts & Plugs label.

Zimmerman, Chidester, and Hicks also play together in Brave Baby — another local Hearts & Plugs band with sophisticated pop sensibilities — alongside singer/songwriter Keon Masters. There’s an amicable balance between the musical similarities and differences between the labelmates — one that makes for great double bills.

Nude South‘s dense, dark tone and mysterious, reverby sound wrap nicely around Matthews romantic lyrics and twangy guitar, no matter who’s accompanying him on stage. These days, drummer Jessica Oliver (of Can’t Kids) is keeping time with Matthews, Chidester, and Hicks. Hearts & Plugs exec Dan McCurry (of Run Dan Run) occasionally joins them on stage with his vintage organs and keys. Everyone on the Elim Bolt has stayed busy keeping up with Matthews’ songwriting efforts this summer.

“We want to start releasing material at a pretty rapid rate and at a low cost — to keep people’s interest,” Matthews says. “We are pressing a new EP on plexiglass and doing burned CDs. Also, we have a music video that’s going to be coming out along with the release.”


Elim Bolt at the Tattooed Moose, Sept. 2013 (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

Elim Bolt’s forthcoming EP will be titled Dingy, Slimy, Scummy. The band recorded it over the summer with Zimmerman on the mixing board at the Space in downtown Charleston. Hearts & Plugs will issue it on vinyl as a limited edition 7-inch and digitally via Bandcamp.com.

“We’ll be pushing it to blogs and such to get some buzz going there again,” says H&P’s McCurry. “The other point of this is just to acquaint listeners with this new direction. Things have moved from polished indie pop to a more garage/grunge rock thing. We’re hoping this will help listeners make that shift.”

Elim Bolt will co-headline the Metronome Anniversary Party on Fri. Sept, 20 at the Tin Roof, hitting the stage around 11:25 a.m. (right after the Unawares’ set). Fans and the uninitiated should expect a stomping, sweeping set of wall-of-sound pop from Nude South (including the anthemic, local fave “Farm Kid”) and some splendidly scroungy new tunes, too.

What might be the most entertaining aspect of their set at the Tin Roof on Friday night? “We are gonna Carrie Brett Nash [of Boring Portals],” Matthews says. “Anyone got a pig we can borrow? Oh, and the Unawares are gonna play our set for us. Can’t wait to watch.”

Visit elimbolt.com and heartsandplugs.com for more.

Top photo by Ballard Lesemann.

“Farm Kid” from the albm Nude South:

      1. ‘Farm Kid’ by Elim Bolt


Elim Bolt: original lineup (photo by Megan Elger)



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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