Secondhand Serenade Biography
John Joseph Vesely formed Secondhand Serenade in his home town of Menlo Park in California, USA, in 2004. Vesely was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in a musical family and as the son of a professional jazz musician father, commenting that "getting into music was a natural thing" for him. He spent 8 years playing as a bassist in local bands, featuring in a number of acts ranging in style from ska and hardcore to rock and pop. One of the bands he played in, Sounds Like Life, included fellow Bay Area artist Ronnie Day. After years of playing bass, he opted for an acoustic guitar.
Vesely began writing his own songs when he met his wife Candice Vesely. She had wanted him to play a song and "serenading her with a bass guitar was out of the question." He has admitted he found his "true calling" when he picked up the guitar. The pseudonym Secondhand Serenade is a reference to the way in which his songs were 'serenades' sung to his former wife Candice, with whom he has two young sons. People around the world are merely getting to hear the songs 'second-hand.' While Vesely continues to market the affectionate biography, Vesely broke up with his former wife Candice while touring in 2008 and subsequently divorced.
In 2005, Vesely released his debut album titled Awake. It was recorded as a demo, after booking a few days at a San Francisco studio earlier in 2005, "using just an acoustic guitar and his multi-tracked vocals." The album was promoted through the Secondhand Serenade Myspace page and by playing local shows. The CD's were originally sold through mail order with a PayPal account by Vesely, eventually he signed up with distributor TuneCore, making Secondhand Serenade's songs available on music portals including iTunes. The album experienced tremendous online support, and by the end of 2006 Secondhand Serenade had received millions of plays on Myspace and had been the social-networking site's No. 1 Independent Artist for months. Financially, he was said to be bringing in up to $20,000 a month from downloads and merchandise sales out of his home. He sold over 15,000 copies of the album on his own, and on the strength of these sales and the support, naturally, the labels came knocking. Secondhand Serenade was signed by longtime label executive Daniel Glass, on his new label Glassnote Records, which is distributed through Warners Independent Label Group. In 2006, Rolling Stone announced Secondhand Serenade as #3 in the magazine's reader's poll for Best Myspace Artist.
In early 2007, Awake was reissued by Glassnote Records with an additional two songs. It was released on February 6 and gave Vesely his first chartings, debuting at #16 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart. Added success lead to it peaking at #164 on the Billboard 200, #3 on the Top Heatseekers and #19 on the Top Independent Albums chart.
In support of his first label release, Vesely was featured on MTV's You Hear It First, AOL Music's Breakers Yahoo! Music's Who's Next? and appeared on talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He also played numerous shows, including tours with the likes of Hawthorne Heights and The All-American Rejects and at music festivals South By Southwest and along side My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park at Bamboozle.
Secondhand Serenade released only one song as a single from the debut album, "Vulnerable". The song spawned a music video, which was created by Frank Borin who was responsible for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' video for hit single "Dani California". "Vulnerable" peaked at #83 on the Billboard Hot 100, #64 on the Pop 100 and #56 on the Hot Digital Songs charts.
A Twist in My Story was released on February 19, 2008 and features songs from Awake such as "Maybe" and "Your Call," but reproduced with a full band. The bulk of the album however is a list of new songs written by John Vesely and recorded with a full band. Two tracks on A Twist In My Story were produced by famed producer Butch Walker, while the others were produced by former Nine Inch Nails member Danny Lohner. The first single, "Fall for You," was released January 21, 2008. The album was leaked, and was made available for download one month before its official release. On January 28, 2008 the music video for the first single from the album "Fall for You" premiered on the popular MTV show TRL. In support of the release, Secondhand Serenade spent most of March and April touring with American bands Making April, Automatic Loveletter, and The White Tie Affair. Members of his touring band include John Harvey on bass guitar, Lukas Vesely (Vesely's brother) on keys/vox, Ryan Cook(former bassist of the White Tie Affair) on lead guitar/vox, and Tom Breyfogle on drums.
The title A Twist in My Story is a reference to Vesely's 2008 divorce with his former wife Candice, with whom he has two young sons.
In November 2008, the album's first single "Fall for You", was certified Platinum by the RIAA. As of December 5th 2008 Fall For You was still #13 on the American Top 40 songs in the country.
The "Your Call" video premiered on FNMTV on December 5th. It can be viewed on the FNMTV website.
A Twist in My Story (Deluxe Edition) was released on February 3, 2009. It contains 5 bonus tracks including "Fall For You (Acoustic Version)" "Like A Knife (Acoustic Version) and the Coldplay cover "Fix You".
Secondhand Serenade is currently in the studio recording a new album for upcoming release.