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 musical family and as the son of a professional jazz musician father, commenting that "getting into music was a natural thing" for him. 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 (2007-2008)
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 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 (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/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. 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. Its 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.
A Twist in My Story (Deluxe Edition) was released on February 3, 2009. It contains 5 bonus tracks including "Your Call" (Radio Version), "Fall for You" (Acoustic Version), "Like A Knife" (Acoustic Version), his single "Last Time", and the Coldplay cover "Fix You"
Hear Me Now & Weightless EP (2010-Present)
Secondhand Serenade's third studio album is entitled Hear Me Now, and was released on August 3, 2010. 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.
“ Secondhand Serenade - singer/songwriter John Vesely - returns with his third album, Hear Me Now, out August 3rd on ILG/Glassnote Records. Eight of the eleven songs on the album were produced by Aaron Johnson (The Fray) at Swing House studios in Los Angeles. The other three, including the first single, "Something More", were produced by John Vesely himself along with Secondhand drummer Tom Breyfogle at Vesely's home studio and mixed by Mark Endert (Train, Maroon 5). "Something More" will debut at 7:40AM on May 17th on Kid Kraddick's nationally syndicated radio show and will be available at iTunes on June 1st. ”
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.
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 off the new EP entitled "Let Me In." The next single off 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"