Emo. The word itself is loaded – beautiful and expressive for those who understand it, eerie and dramatic for those who do not. By definition, “emo” is short for “emotion”, and as a musical genre, there is no more apt way to describe it.
For Secondhand Serenade, a solo project led by singer / guitarist John Vesely, music is more than just “emo.” For Vesely, it’s about creating a connection with the listener.
With lyrics like, “The best thing about tonight is that we don’t fight … Could it be that we’ve been like this before” and “I know you don’t think that I’m trying … I know you wear down to the roots, “Vesely has been able to create a sound that is artistic, relatable and accessible.
These last words come from what is arguably Vesely’s biggest hit: “Fall for You”. The double-platinum-certified song, which in 2008 peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Pop 100 and No. 21 on the Hot 100 chart, has its own Wikipedia page.
Vesely said he took inspiration from life experience when he wrote “Fall for You”.
“It was a song I didn’t even think would make the album. And of course, it was going to be my biggest hit.” Vesely wrote in an email to Pocono Record. “It’s just the way the world works. But I wrote that one on the piano, believe it or not, was actually the first song I ever wrote on the piano. So that process alone was a little different for me.
“But lyrically, I was still writing about my life and something that I had experienced in a relationship.”
Vesely will be releasing a new single on November 12 “which is about as heavy and punchy” as it gets, while still being “really uplifting and positive”. He said he “can’t wait” for the world to hear the new single.
“It’s special on many levels.”
Lucky Poconos fans will be able to hear Secondhand Serenade perform at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on November 14, with guests The Dangerous Summer and Say We Can Fly.
This will be Vesely’s first time in the Burg.
“There aren’t a lot of places in the country that I haven’t played yet, so it’s always fun to do another ‘first show’ in a city. I can’t wait,” said Vesely.
An emo touch
The emo music genre probably originated from the punk, indie, and alternative rock movements of the ’80s and’ 90s, before catching fire in the early 2000s. Vesely, originally from California, started out as a solo acoustic artist because he didn’t didn’t really have the resources to start a band.
“So I did it all myself,” he said.
Vesely said he spent his teenage years in several different bands and “never intended to sing”. He eventually inherited the lead role after one of the bands he played bass for had a lead vocalist leaving the band.
He just “kind of took it” from there.
After the group broke up, Vesely said he “felt like writing songs, mainly to impress the girl I was with at the time”.
“So I learned to play the guitar on my own, I started writing and finally turned those early songs into my first album, ‘Awake’.”
“When I first started writing I didn’t really think of it as an emo sound… or a sound in particular,” he said. “I just wrote down how I was feeling at the time, usually about my relationship.”
The “emo twist” came naturally, since he only had his acoustic guitar and his voice.
“I didn’t really want to sound like anyone else, but I still wanted the songs to be digestible and relatable,” Vesely said, noting that he was influenced by his own situation and by the people in it. surrounded.
“My wife influences my current job, obviously, and I’m fortunate to live in Nashville where there are so many creative people in the music industry, so getting inspired is pretty easy,” he said. . “During my early years I listened to a lot of bands like The Get Up Kids, Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional and Something Corporate.”
After Vesely signed with a record label, he recorded an album with a “full band” sound, which led to “a lot of tours with different variations of a full band”.
Since then he has returned to those roots and is touring solo again.
“(The Just Because You Sing Loud) tour is actually the first in many years that I’ve taken other guys with me on stage. So I’m really looking forward to getting a bit of a band vibe back, “said Vesely. “It definitely adds to the live show and the overall experience for me and my fans.”
“More than a feeling”
Over the years, Second Serenade has played with different sounds, from more acoustic to something cleaner and more complete, while maintaining that emo vibe.
Vesely described this growth to a sound that remains “definitely emo”, and according to him, it “is always going to be that”, noting that a fuller sound was needed on some albums and tours.
After spending the pandemic working on his own music, and writing and producing projects for other artists (something he said he “really likes”), Vesely says a new album Secondhand Serenade arrives in 2022.
“I think the songs I’m sitting on now are going to work really well for fans of acoustic sound as well as fans of songs that feel a bit fuller and cleaner, production-wise,” said Vesely.
“And I’m sure I’ll always have the emo tag … no way around that – which is fine with me.”
For Vesely, music is “more of a feeling” than something that should be defined by a genre, as long as her fans connect emotionally to her work.
“That’s all I care about,” he said.
Despite a sad sound that can permeate the musical genre, Secondhand’s take on emo can best be described as “heartwarming.”
When asked if there is a mission to his music, Vesely said he tries to produce work that is relatable and “elicits emotion” while maintaining a “recognizable but characteristic sound”.
“Most people have gone through the ups and downs of relationships, so I hope my music can help create special moments or bring back special memories.” said Vesely. “More than anything, I just want my fans to connect to songs the way they want to. And I hope that makes them want to come and create some new moments at one of my shows.”
If you are going to
What: Secondhand Serenade: The Just Because You Sing Loud Tour with The Dangerous Summer and Say We Can Fly.
When: Doors 6 p.m., start of the show at 6.30 p.m., Sunday Nov. 14.
Or: Sherman Theater, 524 Main St., Stroudsburg
Cost: $ 20 tickets in advance, $ 25 day of the show
Info: Show all ages, 21 years old to drink. For tickets and more information: bit.ly/2ZXpxmz
Ashley Fontones is Editor-in-Chief of Pocono Record and enjoys writing from time to time on local arts, culture and folklore. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.