As Chicago rock band Kill Hannah embarked on the European leg of their 2008 Hope for the Hopeless tour, fans were all asking the same question: Where is Jonny (referring to the band’s suddenly and inexplicably absent guitarist Jonathan Radtke)? Radtke had not joined the band in Europe; instead Powerspace guitarist Tom Schleiter (who also appeared as a guest guitarist on the band’s 2009 album) temporarily filled the spot.
Radtke rejoined the band for their annual Christmas weekend, New Heart for Christmas 6, in Chicago but it wasn’t long until the band confirmed that Radtke had left the band to pursuit other projects.
Since the announcement, Radtke has been performing with Billy Howerdel (A Perfect Circle) in his band ASHES dIVIDE but working in the background on his solo project, Polar Moon, an idea he had started working on while absent from Kill Hannah’s European tour.
Radtke is doing all of the leg work for the project; writing, performing and producing, and has employed assistance from former Kill Hannah bandmates, Garret Hammond and Elias Mallin on drums, as well as vocals provided by Jessica Stramer on the first demo version Jonathan has released to the public, Watch the Stars Explode (as of press time; fans expect – and hope for – more of Stramer’s voice on future tracks as well).
Watch the Stars Explode was released publicly on March 18, 2010, along with a second demo track, entitled Intro (Lost in Heaven). Responses to this first track have ranged from “stunning” and “breathtaking” to the fast fans proclaiming that it “brought tears to their eyes.”
Jonathan has naturally gained a following of his former Kill Hannah fans as well as the new fans he has made playing alongside Howerdel, but the Polar Moon project has easily attracted its own new fans (450, according to his Facebook page). I personally shared Watch the Stars Explode with friends who had no former knowledge or connection to Radtke and was told “that’s a song I could listen to every day. Thanks for sharing.”
Once he has recorded enough tracks to produce an album, Radtke will be pursuing label representation. He is hoping also to tour to support the album, once it is all finished. It is this writer’s opinion that we should expect gigantic things from Radtke and Polar Moon and should be expecting those huge things for years to come. As much as he is missed on the Kill Hannah stage, he deserves his own limelight just as much. Good luck to you, Jonathan.