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Secondhand Serenade’s new album even more personal

Fri., Aug. 27, 2010

As Secondhand Serenade, John Vesely has been highly regarded for his introspective lyrics and deeply personal subject matter.

But on his new album, “Here Me Now,” Vesely delves deeper into his soul and his sound.

“Most of all, I’m trying to find a very distinct identity, which is difficult as an artist because you’re always going to be compared to different artists when you’re starting out,” he said in a telephone interview.

“But it’s about being comfortable and confident with who you are and what you’re doing.”

Vesely plays under the name Secondhand Serenade as a reference to his songs being written for his wife, and the rest of the world is invited to listen in.

His music has always been reflective of his personal life, he said. And what’s being reflected on “Here Me Now” is a person who is enlightened by his mistakes, accepting – and, in some cases, embracing – his own imperfections.

The new album even borders on being upbeat, or at least Vesely’s version of it.

“It’s definitely more upbeat than my other albums. It gives a little less of a narrow standpoint,” he said.

“It has a lot to do with my personal life and dealing with issues of my own, rather than relationship issues. It’s a little bit of me rediscovering myself and themes throughout the album are about opening up and stepping forward.”

Released earlier this month, Vesely’s third album continues to expand on Secondhand Serenade’s acoustic-based, emo-inflected rock, as did its predecessor, 2008’s “A Twist in My Story.”

While Vesely created the illusion of a full band by playing all of the instruments on his 2007 debut, “Awake,” “A Twist in My Story” used a full band and an orchestra. “Here Me Now” adds more electronics to the mix.

“I thought it would be fun to mess around with different techniques and trying to offer something new,” he said. “I had also been listening to a lot more (electronic music), and just decided to go with it.”

Vesely self-produced three of “Here Me Now’s” 11 songs. The rest of the album was tracked by Aaron Johnson, who also has worked with The Fray.

“Every producer has a different style,” said Vesely. “The songs I did with Aaron are a lot more straightforward, alternative-rock affected and that’s because of the way we did it.

“I came in with the songs all planned out. With the new songs I was writing them to be a little different. I was a little more risky and creative with the production elements and doing things more on the electronic side than we did with Aaron.

“ ‘Awake’ was acoustic and totally different,” Vesely said. “A lot that comes from working with different producers who have really put me on the right path and teaching me some cool techniques.”

During the live set, he appears with a five-piece band including two guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, playing along with interspersed electronic tracks.

Secondhand Serenade catapulted to national recognition thanks largely to MySpace, where it was the No. 1 unsigned artist for months and voted in the top three Best MySpace Artists in the 2006 Rolling Stone readers poll.

While MySpace isn’t as commonly used as Facebook, Vesely thinks it’s still the best tool for independent artists to have their music heard.

“It was really the right circumstance for me,” Vesely said. “But used to it’s fullest extent, it’s still a great time for people to use it as a viable resource to put their music out in the world. That’s just how it worked out for me.”

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