Growing up in a musical household in the San Francisco Bay Area, John Vesely, Secondhand Serenade’s singer-songwriter, was basically bound to end up in music, but he wasn’t always so sure.
“I didn’t really think of it as a full-time career until after high school. And even then, I was a bit tentative. Once I made my first album, that’s when I knew I wanted to go all the way with it,” Vesely said in an email interview.
You may have seen Vesely on shows like MTV’s TRL or on the MTV Buzzworthy Blog, but his recent success did not come overnight. Years of musical training on the bass led Vesely to teach himself the guitar and piano. Writing came naturally after he learned how to play guitar.
Back in 2004, Secondhand Serenade formed in Menlo Park, California after Vesely had already played a variety of gigs as a solo artist. His roots as a solo performer continue to influence his creative process. In fact, inspiration for his band name came from his relationship with his wife, Breanna Russell and all of his serenades to her. This romantic origin of the band’s name speaks to the heartstring-pulling nature of his lyrics and appeal to pop music fans.
Secondhand Serenade’s second album, A Twist in My Story, contains a mix of ballads with the potential to make love-song addicts swoon.
In the first single, “Fall For You,” which topped the U.S. Billboard Pop 100 at number eight, Tesely shares a story about reigniting love in a long-term relationship: “Tonight will be the night that I will fall for you — over again.” He acknowledges the ups and downs of relationships, saying “I know you don’t think that I am trying,” and then proceeds to profess his commitment with “I won’t live to see another day/ I swear it’s true/ Because a girl like you is impossible to find.”
According to Top-40.com, “Fall For You” went platinum in October, selling over 1,000,000 copies.
John Vesely continues to work hard writing, recording and touring across the country. “I definitely have way more material than I’ll ever need, which is something I like having. So the writing process never really stops,” he explains.
For more firsthand info from Secondhand Serenade, check out our Q&A with Vesely below.
Like a Knife
Fall for You
"I always knew it was something I was into, even from a very early age as my father is an accomplished musician. But I didn't really think of it as a full time career until after high school. And even then, I was a bit tentative. Once I made my first album, that's when I knew I wanted to go all the way with it." - John Vesely
"My parents had put me in classes for various instruments so I had a basic knowledge of music early on. I grew a love for the bass, but eventually felt that I couldn't be as creative as I wanted, so I ended up teaching myself guitar, which led to writing, which eventually led to me teaching myself the piano." - John Vesely
"I like all kinds of music from rock, to hard core, to acoustic and hip hop. I'm kind of all over the place when it comes to what I listen to and even to what inspires me. Inspirations have come from older acts like The Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkle to more contemporary acts like Coldplay and The All-American Rejects. I've also been heavily influences by bands like The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World which were a big part of my social scene in high school." - John Vesely
"I have sort of a unique way of warming up my vocal chords which to some people probably seems like a lot of random shouting. But I basically warm-up, socialize with my band and go over the set list in my head. I'm not one of those guys who needs to meditate and find a quiet place alone before I hit the stage. I like to keep my energy up and stay active." - John Vesely
"The only thing I can really say is that you have to be willing to give it your all in this business if you want to succeed. That means not just on stage, but also off stage. You've gotta work hard at promoting yourself and treat it like a full time job. You might not go sit in an office for 8 hours to collect your paycheck, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't still put in the hours online, speaking to fans, working on material and studying your competition." - John Vesely
"Alive. I really feel like I am on top of the world and that the crowd is sending me an energy that I can bounce right back to them. It's sometimes surreal to see that many people singing the lyrics I wrote in my bedroom a while ago, but there's really no better feeling in the world." - John Vesely
"A lot actually. I've been on tour for almost all of 2008, so that's kept me really busy, but I've been able to write a number of things on the road for my next album and for other artists. I definitely have way more material than I'll ever need, which is something I like having. So the writing process never really stops. I'm also putting together a DVD right now for my fans that will be available in February, so we've been shooting a lot of interviews and footage that I think my fans are going to love!" - John Vesely