We Were Sharks frontman/lead vocalist Randy Frobel chatted about the band’s formation and growth over the years. We also discuss Randy’s own journey as a musician.
Welcome Randy and thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.
Randy Frobel (RF): Thank you so much for having me.
For those unaware, you are the lead vocalist of Ottawa-based ‘pop-punkers’ We Were Sharks. Before discussing the band directly, could you describe how you first got interested in music? Why did you want to make a career in that industry?
RF: Honestly, when I was younger, I used to do a lot of sports. I found listening to music always kind of helpful for sports. When I was younger, I remember seeing The Backstreet Boys and all those girls going absolutely insane for them. I’m like, “Man, hmm. I wonder if I can do that?” I just fell in love with music, started skateboarding and then I got into punk-rock music.
From there on, it just kind of went that way. I get pretty into things when I’m into them. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make music. Lucky enough, here I am, still kind of doing it.
Jumping forward in time to We Were Sharks. How would you describe the group’s evolution over the years? To what extent have things changed from when the band was first formed?
RF: We’ve been around for 11 years now. Definitely older, a few of us are much older. Different members, different sounds. Once again, people growing up and music taste evolving. That’s really helping. Then, touring and seeing what works live. Then, kind of working it into the new albums. “Let’s try to do that”, kind of thing.
As you’ve mentioned, We Were Sharks have been together for 11 years. What advice or tips would you give to anyone pursuing a career in the music industry?
RF: Honestly? Don’t do it. I mean, that sounds super negative but you really truly do have to love it. It’s one of those things. You’re going to lose friends, you’re going to lose girlfriends/boyfriends, you’re gonna lose jobs, you’re gonna lose money. You’re gonna lose time, you’re gonna lose sleep, you’ll miss a bunch of different events with your family.
If you truly love what you’re doing, it’s not as hard on you. I don’t want to say it’s not as hard, because it’s still hard. You’re going to stay focused on it. Really, honestly, think about it. Try it and just love it. I mean, if I could go back and tell my younger self that is what’s going to happen, I’d probably still be doing this. At the same time, I would’ve been a little more ready for some of the heartbreaks and downfalls.
You have to be ready to look past rejections and just continue to move on. Do it for you. If you don’t, that’s okay. It’s just not for you.
In May 2021, We Were Sharks released its new album, New Low. How would you describe the music to anyone unfamiliar with your work?
RF: It is a pop-punk album. It’s a more mature album, I guess you’d want to say. Maybe some would call it pop-punk. I personally think it’s a pop-punk album. It’s a party on an album. This is maybe the third full-length, maybe fourth album. We’ve been putting out albums after albums. When we first started, we released EPs online. This is our second major album, but third or fourth full album.
As already mentioned, you are the lead vocalist of We Were Sharks. From your experience, does being front and centre on stage translate into off-stage dynamics? Meaning, do you feel compelled to take on a leadership role?
RF: No! With us, there’s a lot of guys working. Everybody’s good at something. They take control of that and that’s a big thing. It’s what made this band stick around for 11 years. You have to know what you’re good at and take on that role. Some people are better at other things. It’s how each of us take a role like that.
Definitely, I would never say I lead anything in this band. We’re just a unit. Whoever works best at something, they take that. It seems to be working now.
If you could choose your dream collaborator – musician/band/artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
RF: Right now, I’d probably want to work with a country singer named Hardy. He’s my absolute favourite. I’m a big country music fan. He’s probably one of my favourite songwriters right now, in any genre of music. I would probably have to go with Hardy.
You have a long association with a previous Courageous Nerd interview guest, Peter Roumeliotis – or Petey Beats. Could you describe how this relationship came about?
RF: It’s funny, I ran into him so many times before we became friends. We didn’t even know it. I’d seen him at shows. He did a few days on a tour with us. I remember that because it was summer, getting hot and had a shirt on. Our bass player at the time cut the sleeves off the shirt for him. He had just a muscle shirt for the rest of the tour.
I played against him in Ball hockey tournaments. We had no idea of ever facing each other. Great guy, I see him around a lot. I don’t see him as often now, of course, because of COVID and everything. Super, super awesome guy. I’ve known him since the band started, 11 years now.
What can fans of We Were Sharks expect in the near future?
RF: Hopefully some shows! We’ve had a lot of people asks this. A lot of people feel like they’re bugging us. Like, “Hey, I don’t want to bug you guys…” Trust me, you’re not bugging us! We want to play so bad. We’re waiting for the right time, waiting for everything to clear up.
We want to have a show where everybody’s going crazy. No one has to stand six feet apart. We want singalongs, all of the fun stuff that brings. Hoping for some shows in the near future. If everything goes correctly, [we’ll have] some shows and we’ll all hang out then. Just a big celebratory show, a big party.
We still haven’t gotten to do a studio release yet. The album came out in May. Trust me, we’re feeling it.
To wrap this up – professionally or personally, what would you like to accomplish in 2022?
RF: Just be better. Be better and keep growing. As hard as it is to grow in a world where you can’t do much right now. Maybe get in touch a little more with my emotions. I’m a very emotional person. Maybe learn a little more about myself. Things that I want to do.
I’ve kind of put things off because I am a little older now doing this music thing. I’m always a little afraid to put some stuff out. At the end of the day, you’re never too old to do what you love doing. I’ve kind of battled those inner demons, “Maybe I’m too old to do this. Maybe I’m not too old to do this. What would I be doing if I wasn’t doing this?”
We’re going to keep writing. We’ve been talking about doing some new stuff and fingers crossed we get to play shows soon. I think that’s the most important thing right now.
Thanks again for taking the time, Randy. Take care and stay safe!
RF: Thank you so much for having me, same to you.