Whether you love, hate or exhibit drastic indifference to SECONDHAND SERENADE, you can’t escape them. Or is it just him, considering that vocalist John Vesely essentially is Secondhand Serenade? This past November, the band’s huge single, "Fall For You," hit platinum status, meaning you probably couldn’t pick up cold medicine without hearing Vesely’s achingly earnest voice saunter over pharmacy aisles. Vesely and his band drove home the point last week with the deluxe-edition release of their 2008 full-length, A Twist In My Story, adding a handful of bonus tracks as well as a DVD with an in-depth, 90-minute documentary along with all their music videos. BRIAN SHULTZ recently caught up with Vesely to discuss his success and future plans, including the band’s next album.
So you’ve done some pretty crazy international visits recently. Where were you and for what?
I was in the Bahamas for a show with Kelly Clarkson and Lily Allen. Atlantis [resort] is beautiful–I highly suggest paying it a visit. Anyway, after that I went to Portugal to do some press: A week’s worth of TV shows, radio shows and online interviews.
Did you ever think a few years ago that you’d be in the place you are now?
You know, as an artist it’s something you always dream about, but you never really know if it’s gonna happen or not. A lot of things need to go your way in order to [get a] break in today’s market. But I’ve been blessed to have a lot of breaks, a great team and a fanbase that make so many things possible for me. I still don’t think I understand how big this thing has really gotten.
A Twist in My Story – Secondhand Serenade
How were the Cute Is What We Aim For and headlining tours?
The Cute tour was amazing. So much fun. Actually, I have to say that all the tours I’ve done lately have been nothing short of incredible. Obviously, some shows are better than others, but overall, I’m pretty stoked with the reactions we’ve gotten, the bands we’ve brought along and the growth of Secondhand Serenade. And I’m sure my upcoming tours with the Fray and with the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus will also be amazing.
Which was better: the Cute tour or your headlining tour?
Well, the Cute tour was a co-headlining tour, which was cool because we both drew a lot of fans. The one benefit of being the only headliner, though, is that everything is based around you when you’re the only main attraction. You soundcheck first, you get the better accommodations. Basically, you want to be the headliner. But I also appreciate going out with a bigger band like the Fray and getting to play in front of an audience that might not be familiar with me.
You’ve been on some pretty big tours before. Did you notice any differences this time around in terms of fan reactions, or how you were treated?
Not so much. I’ve been touring pretty much for an entire year straight, and in that time, I’ve come back to a lot of the same areas a number of times. So it seems like it’s getting better and bigger each time through. I will say that when I first starting touring for this album last February, my single “Fall For You” was not as big as it was later in the year, so the fan reaction for that one got much better as time went on.
How have you been able to balance family life and doing more and more touring?
It’s definitely not easy and I’m learning as I go. Not being around your family is hands-down the toughest thing to deal with when you’re on the road. But I also know my family is going to see an enormous benefit from me working as hard as I am. It may pull me away from them more than they’d like, but having a secure future for my kids is something worth giving my all for.
Goodbye – Secondhand Serenade
It’s been said that at one point you were making $20,000 a month from downloads and merchandise sales right out of your house. Is that true?
Yes, that’s true. But the reality is this: How long would I be able to keep that going without the support of a label, without the tools of radio and television? I was doing really well on my own online, but I knew if I wanted to get to the next level, I needed to build a team around me that included a label. Luckily, I found the right home in Glassnote and haven’t looked back since.
Do the comparisons to Dashboard Confessional ever bother you?
Not really, because I feel like we’re not all that similar. People tend to naturally compare an artist’s sound to another artist just for the sake of being able to classify it. In the beginning, I was just an acoustic artist. And at that time, Dashboard was a huge acoustic artist. So I can see where the comparisons were coming from, but I think with my album, A Twist In My Story, I added the element of a full band which did end up separating our sounds a bit more clearly. With that said, I think Dashboard are great in their own right.
The DVD mentions you played horns in a band. What did you play?
I played the saxophone for a little while, but I was never technically that good. It definitely wasn’t the easiest instrument I ever learned.
Why – Secondhand Serenade
Are you working on the new album?
Yes, I’m in the middle of writing and doing some pre-production for my next album. So far, so good. I’m sort of just fleshing out ideas but it’s going really well and I’m excited to see where it all goes.
Are you looking to do anything different the next time around?
It’s still very early on in the process, but I’m definitely looking to take it to another level in terms of my artistry. I don’t ever want to go backward. I want to continually grow. Although I doubt it’s gonna be way different from my past work, it will definitely be representative of where I am now and how much I’ve grown as an artist. alt