To Love and To Hold; An interview with Zordan Badurina of Jonathan

Jonathan, friends from Rijeka, Croatia, first crossed paths in 2011. All of them came from other bands with many years of experience but none were prepared for the instant chemistry and ease of making a whole new sound together. The band’s name reflects this idea of unity, Jonathan being a metaphorical single person with a blend of character traits and whimsies from each.

Jonathan officially appeared on Croatian scene in November 2013 with a single “Maggie” which was an instant hit. Accolades from music professionals and audience were only confirmed upon release of their debut album Bliss in May the following year. Jonathan became one of the bands emerging on the regional music scene, being high in quality and most noticeable.

Not keen to confine their music to a single genre, Jonathan prefers to define themselves against other indie bands of today with a sound raw with primal energy and sarcastic lyrics delivered with genuine feeling. Their music is maybe best described as dark-lens optimism. There is an honest undertone of pain and angst in almost all of the tracks, which allows for a punky vibe, and a surge of energy and hope which leaves you blindsided.

At the beginning of 2016, they released a single, “Heaven,” to announce their new project, a conceptual double album To Love and To Hold. The first part To Love was released at the beginning of 2017. To Hold was released in March 2019. With comparisons to Franz Ferdinand, Editors, Interpol, Placebo, and The Strokes, Jonathan has built their own reputation as a full rock concert machine with sold out concerts in the best and biggest clubs in Croation and by performing at festivals in the whole region, such as Exit Festival, INmusic, Flow Festival Ljubljana, showcases Eurosonic in Groningen, Waves Vienna and Bratislava, and a mini tour with Editors as their supporting act.

Ghettoblaster recently spoke with vocalist Zordan Badurina about the LP, which was released via Los Angeles Doo, and their first ever tour of the U.S. This is what he said.

When did you first begin writing the material for To Hold?

There is no strict time when we started, many of the songs are one of the first songs we made when the band started but I guess we just weren’t ready for them at the time. As we changed and evolved in a way, the songs came back to us in the different light. On each rehearsal a couple of songs emerge and in the end their energy puts them together in the form of an album.

Is your previous release To Love a companion to To Hold? If so, how are they different?

To Love and To Hold together make one complete story, the story of choices and decisions between freedom and fear, individuality and conformism, heart and mind…they sound different but have the same energy.

You just played the United States for the first time. Do you have a U.S. booking agent? Or did you book it yourselves?

We don’t have a booking agent yet so we did it ourselves with our management and a huge help from Lee Tesche from the band Algiers.

On a related note, how did you get a coveted invitation to play SXSW?

Our manager and booking agent from Croatia applied for us without our knowledge about it. She just sent an email one day that we got in, we were excited and surprised. It’s a big thing for us, SXSW is a biggest and most important showcase festival in the world after all.

Who do you consider your biggest inspirations? Is it different for each member?

Every artist that creates with honesty and passion. For myself I have to say it’s Nick Cave.

What current artists are you listening to these days? Any Croatian bands that we should be aware of?

It’s hard to say, we like Future Islands, LCD Soundsystem is always in the player, Nick Cave, Savages…Our friend Dunja a.k.a. Lovely Quinces who featured on one of our latest tracks “I don’t mind” on the To Hold album, very talented young girl from Croatia.

What’s next in the world of Jonathan?

We will try to find somebody (agent, label etc..) who’s gonna take care of our business in the U.S. and the rest of the world, cause singing in English in Croatia is not going to get us further than this.

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