John Vesely formed Secondhand Serenade in his home town of Menlo Park, California, USA, in 2004. Vesely was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in a musical family and as the son of a professional jazz musician father, commenting that "getting into music was a natural thing" for him. He spent 8 years playing bass in local bands, featuring in a number of acts ranging in style from ska and hardcore to rock and pop. One of the bands he played in, Sounds Like Life, included fellow Bay Area artist Ronnie Day. After years of playing bass, he opted for an acoustic guitar. Vesely follows in the tradition of John Ondrasik's Five for Fighting. Vesely was also the son of a Czech immigrant. According to John Vesely, his songs are originally sung to his wife as serenades. Music fans hear them only secondhand. That's where the name Secondhand Serenade comes in.