Everything began to shift when We Were Sharks released their third album Lost Touch in 2018. Touring went on longer than usual, and life began to shift around the Canadian rockers—lost relationships, family, and friends—all culminating in New Low (Revival Recordings), a collection of songs documenting the highs and the lows of this period, and the retrieval of aspirations even when things are down.
“New Low is a collection of songs that we created that focuses on being down but not out,” says frontman Randy Frobel. “No matter what may have tried to keep us down or hold us back, we always take the hit and keep pushing forward.”
Returning home from tour November 2019, the band got back into the studio and began writing around new songs again. Moving into New Low, the band—Frobel, along with guitarist Colin Jacques, bassist Matthew Sears, and drummer Will Plummer—also returned to their previous Lost Touch production team, including producer and co-writer Paul Marc Rousseau.
“Going into a ‘New Low,’ we weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but that’s something we’ve never really tried to do,” says Frobel, who admits that there are still some songs on the previous album, specifically closing track “Always You,” that fill a gap between Lost Touch and New Low.
“We just wanted to write what we feel,” he adds. “The concept of not reinventing the wheel for us is not pushing ourselves in the sense of saying ‘This is something that I would never do, and it sounds weird, so let’s do it,’ but going into this album, I still didn’t want to write another Lost Touch.”
Facing demons of hopelessness and the new lows in life, We Were Sharks kick open with retaliatory chants of Fuck that fuck you eat pavement / Everybody acts so shameless on “Shameless” and the empowered “Bring Me Down.” New Low pushes through ups and downs, through angsty riffs and lyrics dashing around all the things that need to be reconciled, from the relationship drama of “Problems” and “Burning House,” to “Ashley (pt. 2),” a continuation of the fictional love of “Ashley” off Lost Touch, before leaving off on the anthemic “Ready to Go.”
A fan of country music, Frobel started playing with a few Canadian country artists once the album was recorded to approach his songwriting differently.
“During the pandemic, I said ‘I’m gonna write a song,’’ says Frobel. “My writing style has always been, I write out a story that I want to tell then go directly to the chorus. Usually people write the chorus first, but I’m kind of a lazy songwriter.”
Now, nearly 11 years in with We Were Sharks, since their debut Highways in 2012 and follow up Not a Chance in 2015, the band has reached a new cohesiveness throughout the past decade, all evident on New Low. Once the band got back into the studio for New Low, says Frobel, they were all on the same page.
“We locked up,” says Frobel. “”We were all on the same page from day one of this album, but of course, everybody has a different interpretation of what a song means. If I came up with an idea, it may mean something completely different to our guitarist Jason.”
For Frobel, New Low was a moment of needed introspection that will resonate beyond his shared experiences. “When we were recording, I felt like I was getting to a new low, literally,” says Frobel. “A lot of my life was unraveling, and I was trying to record the album while trying to deal with that, so I do think a lot of the album is about what I was going through, just kind of feeling lost and not 100 percent sure what was coming, but at the same time, ready to take it on the chin. That’s kind of what this whole album is about.”
Frobel adds, “That’s the nice thing about putting it out on album because people will say ‘hey, man, I was there. I get it,’ so that’s why I was happy that it all happened at this point in time.”