John Vesely, aka Secondhand Serenade, says that the volatile experience of fame played a key role in inspiring the songs for his third album, "Hear Me Now," which comes out Aug. 3.
"Everything got kind of shifted when I got into this lifestyle," Vesely, who sold more than 2.2 million singles -- including the Top 30 "Fall For You" -- from 2008's "A Twist in My Story," tells Billboard.com. "It's a very different lifestyle, and I got tested by a lot of things. You get really preoccupied with stuff and you tend to put things on the back burner and maybe shovel problems under the carpet for a later day. I was kind of bummed at who I was for a little while there. Being able to deal with that and grow from that was really important to me, and ('Hear Me Now') is kind of about owning up to that."
The new album also found Vesely taking more responsibility for his music, too. Though Aaron Johnson (the Fray, Katie Herzig) produced eight of "Hear Me Now's" 11 tracks in Los Angeles, Vesely, aided by Secondhand Serenade drummer Tom Breyfogle, took charge of the other three -- including the first single, "Something More." But that, he says, was a product of necessity.
"The label was telling me that we needed more songs for the album, that we weren't quite done, and I was worried my album was never going to come out," he recalls. "I just sat at the piano and started writing the song; it was a lot different than any of the other songs I'd written, and it...became the first single." Vesely says he "really enjoyed" taking the reigns for a few songs. "It was something I've always wanted to do and finally had the confidence to go out and do it," he says. "Some of my favorite songs are the ones I produced myself. It was a really great experience for me."
The sessions for "Hear Me Now" yielded more songs than made the album, so Vesely is planning to get the extras out sooner rather than later via an acoustic EP he hopes to release in the very near future, possibly after his current U.S. tour wraps in early September. The EP will feature an entirely different lineup of songs, Vesely says the stripped-down nature of the disc is meant to placate early fans who prefer -- or at least claim to prefer -- his 2006 debut "Awake" to the larger sound of "A Twist in My Story" and "Hear Me Now."
"It's just a little follow-up extension of this album, nothing to try to throw on radio or anything like that," Vesely explains. "Every once in awhile I'll get someone saying, 'Oh, what is this? This isn't Secondhand Serenade,' but this is very much me -- specially the songs I produced and played all the instruments on. I don't know how much more me it can get. I want fans to understand that and be with me. If all they want is acoustic song after acoustic song, I'll give them a few of those, but the fact of the matter is I'm an artist and I have to evolve."
Vesely hopes to take Secondhand Serenade to southeast Asia this fall and is also eyeballing a college tour. "We'll be touring for the next year, two years, pretty much straight," he says. "This album is coming out simultaneously in a lot of different countries, so I'm just going to be traveling a lot. It's all about breaking into all the markets that we can."