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Much like Five for Fighting or Dashboard Confessional, Secondhand Serenade is the project name for a solo artist, singer/songwriter John Vesely. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in a musical family that included his professional jazz musician father, Vesely spent a number of years playing bass in local bands before picking up the acoustic guitar and refocusing his attention on composing original material. Rather than releasing the new material under his name, Vesely chose to group them under a different moniker, Secondhand Serenade, which paid reference to the notion that all his autobiographical songs were directed first and foremost to his wife (and thus made the rest of his audience bystanders to their pas de deux). Vesely recorded his debut album, Awake, in 2005, originally self-releasing the disc and selling it online through his MySpace page and iTunes. Internet buzz led to a deal with Glassnote Records, who released an expanded version of Awake in February 2007.
Secondhand Serenade is an acoustic rock band, led by vocalist, pianist and guitarist John Vesely. Vesely has released three studio albums to date under the name Secondhand Serenade: Awake in 2007, A Twist in My Story in 2008 and Hear Me Now in 2010. The debut album used multitrack recording to create the sound of a band using technology, while the second album took a different path, using a proper band and synthesizers to establish a more accomplished sound.Secondhand Serenade at AllMusic Mason, Stewart. "Awake Review". All Music.com. Retrieved 2008-06-05. Roth, Kaj. "Secondhand Serenade goes full band on new album". Melodic.net. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
ContentsHistory1.1 Early history, first release (2004–2006)1.2 Awake re-release (2007)1.3 A Twist in My Story (2008–2009)1.4 Hear Me Now and Weightless EP (2010–2011)1.5 Departure from Glassnote and independent work (2012–present)
Early history, first release (2004–2006)
John 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 humorous family and as the son of a jazz musician. He started getting into music at the age of 12. He spent 8 years playing bass 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 follows in the tradition of John Ondrasik's Five for Fighting. Vesely was also the son of a Czech immigrant.
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 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, the couple broke up in 2008. Vesely was heart broken as can be seen in many of his songs. He released A Twist in My Story as a reference to the divorce.
While some artists may fear the rawness of playing with just an acoustic guitar, John welcomes the honesty it comes along with. He claims "in some ways a band is more powerful, but in other ways there are things you can do with one voice and one acoustic guitar that you couldn't do with an army of musicians behind you."
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 CDs 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 Warner's Independent Label Group. In 2006, Rolling Stone announced Secondhand Serenade as #3 in the magazine's reader's poll for Best MySpace Artist.
Awake re-release (2007)
In early 2007, Awake was reissued by Glassnote Records with an additional two songs. It was released on January 31 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 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 alongside My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park at The 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 (2008–2009)
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 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 Steve Shebby on bass guitar, Lukas Vesely (Vesely's brother) on keys, Ryan Cook (former bassist of the White Tie Affair) on lead guitar, 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. Vesely had separated with Candice in August 2007, the time when the tracks for A Twist in My Story were being created.
In November 2008 the album's first single "Fall for You", was certified Platinum by the RIAA. As of December 5, 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 5. It can be viewed on the FNMTV website.
He released a video for the song "Maybe" on his MySpace page on May 4, 2009. It's a video about his concerts and trips around the world and was shot and directed by his tour manager Preston Jones and his drummer Tom Breyfogle.
Deluxe edition of A Twist in My Story was released on February 3, 2009. It contains 5 bonus tracks including radio version of "Your Call", acoustic version of "Fall for You", acoustic version of "Like a Knife", his single "Last Time", and the Coldplay cover "Fix You".
Hear Me Now and Weightless EP (2010–2011)
Secondhand Serenade's third studio album is entitled Hear Me Now, and was released on August 3, 2010.Thanks to Chris Lipa And His local band from Michigan for the additions to the album, The album's track listing has also been announced. In a recent interview, Vesely stated that the new record will be more upbeat than his last album, which focused on relationships.
On June 1, "Something More" was released onto iTunes as a deluxe single with a bonus track "You Are a Drug", a video showing the making of "Something More", and a digital booklet to the new single.
The vocals of Juliet Simms from American rock band Automatic Loveletter were featured on the song "Hear Me Now" and the cover of "Fix You", originally performed by British rock band Coldplay.
On July 21, while on tour in Dallas, Vesely announced that a downloadable track pack for Rock Band would be made available soon, featuring multiple Secondhand Serenade hits including "Fall for You".
On July 27, Vesely added the eleven tracks off of the new album to his MySpace and made them available for streaming for fans. Many of these songs have also leaked onto sites such as YouTube. On November 23, 2010, Vesely released a free online download for a demo of a new song of the new EP entitled "Let Me In." The next single of the new album is a new version of "You & I" featuring Cady Groves.
In March 2011, Vesely announced he was mastering the new EP and that it would be entitled Weightless. Weightless was released digitally on May 3, 2011 and consists of five songs: "Our Time," "Let Me In," "Animal (Neon Trees Cover)," "You & I (Acoustic)," and "Never Too Late".
Departure from Glassnote and independent work (2012–present)
In January 2012 Vesely started a Pledgemusic campaign which he promoted on his Twitter and Facebook in order to fund the recording of his next album. He announced on his Pledgemusic page that he had left his record label to start afresh. He stated that he wanted to focus on the music and not have to deal with "industry politics, expectations, and all of the other unnatural pressures that come along with being tied to companies and corporations", and sarcastically cited creative differences as the reason for leaving his record label in a video, with a caption that read: "LOOL!!!".
Pledges ranged from $10 to $20,000, including various rewards such as signed guitar picks and CDs, handwritten thank you notes and lyric sheets, private Skype guitar lesson and Q&A sessions, VIP passes to a concert, the opportunity to visit Disneyland or Universal Studios with him, a signed and used Gibson guitar, a co-writing session with him in LA, a dinner for two home-cooked by him in LA, a private concert, and so on. Pledgers would also be entitled to exclusive videos, streams of demos and new songs, pictures, blog posts, and much more. It was also announced 25% of the money raised would go to Ear Candy, a charity that provides musical instruments and education to children.
During the summer of 2012, Vesely recorded an acoustic remake of A Twist in My Story. In July 2012, the release date and the title of the remake were announced by Vesely and it should be released on iTunes and Amazon as download. One week before the official release some sample of "Suppose", "Stranger", "Like a Knife", and his new recorded song "Belong To" were released on SoundCloud site.
In September 11, 2012, Vesely released the acoustic remake of his older album A Twist in My Story called A Naked Twist in My Story. After this release Vesely goes back to the studio to record his new album with producer/engineer Brandon Metcalf in Nashville, TN.
On February 26 of 2013, a new single titled "Shake It Off" was released to start promoting the new album. Vesely explained the concept of "Shake It Off" in a 2013 interview with Musichel, "“Shake It Off” is a song about putting everyday problems behind you and staying positive. I really thought it was time for me to write a feel good song and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out."
September 23, 2013, Vesely and girlfriend Veronica Ballestrini filmed a Ford Fiesta commercial in Nashville using their song "LA LA Love". The commercial was shot by Glenn Sweitzer and won a Telly Award in 2014.
On a videochat on Spreecast, Vesely announced the official title of the new album: Undefeated.
On April 22, 2014, Secondhand Serenade released his OneRepublic "Counting Stars" cover, published on the covers album The Cover Up by Brandon Metcalf's Destiny Nashville.
Vesely's girlfriend Veronica Ballestrini three duets with Secondhand Serenade on his upcoming new album titled "Undefeated". The album is set to release Fall 2014.Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Secondhand Serenade - Profile of John Vesely". Top40.about.com. Retrieved 23 October 2012. Shapiro, Julianne. "Locals Only: Secondhand Serenade". Zero Mag.com. Retrieved 2008-06-05. "Ronnie Day Biography". Retrieved 2009-05-16. Lamb, Bill (2010). "Secondhand Serenade". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-05-18. Quillen, Shay. "Peninsula's John Vesely finds success as Secondhand Serenade". Mercury News.com. Retrieved 2008-06-05. Graff, Gary. "Fans Fall For Secondhand Serenade". GoAndDoMichigan.com. Retrieved 2009-05-17. http://www.lyricsmania.com/biography/secondhand_serenade_biography_8321.html Quillen, Shay. "Peninsula's Prince Vesely finds success as Secondhand Serenade". Mercury News.com. Retrieved 2008-06-05. Ben-Yehuda, Ayala. "Digital Distribution Provides Boost to Heatseeking Artist". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-06-05. Press Release. "Secondhand Serenade's Debut Album Enters At #16 On Billboard". Ultimate Guitar.com. Retrieved 2008-06-05. "Search Results RIAA – Secondhand Serenade". RIAA. Retrieved 2008-11-24. http://www.at40.com/song/692/index.html Upcoming album details from PureGrainAudio.com http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/daily-noise/959710/secondhand-serenade-kelly-clarkson-talk-new-material http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/secondhandserenade "Secondhand Serenade Revitalized for New Album". Retrieved Feb 25, 2013. Ho, Rachel (2013). "Interview: Secondhand Serenade". Musichel. Retrieved 2013-08-08. "Secondhand Serenade - Archived Chat". Spreecast. Retrieved 20 November 2013. http://ventsmagazine.com/destiny-nashville-launches-label-with-the-cover-up-feat-secondhand-serenade-amy-stroup-elenowen-more/