Country French crash course

Waterloo band Will Currie & the Country French got their start at Wilfrid Laurier University

Will Currie & the Country French won the CBC Radio 3 Award for Best Collaboration in 2008 for their single “Push Pins” featuring Sloan.
Will Currie & the Country French won the CBC Radio 3 Award for Best Collaboration in 2008 for their single “Push Pins” featuring Sloan.

Professors at Wilfrid Laurier are some of their biggest fans.

Waterloo sextet Will Currie & the Country French came together while studying music at the university — leaving them at the mercy of their professors when they needed extensions because they were busy with the band.

“Sometimes we would honestly have to leave for tours for several weeks at a time, so it was no secret to our professors what we were doing and they encouraged it,” said the band’s frontman Will Currie.

Currie, along with bandmates Steve Wood, Aaron Mariash, Daniel MacPherson and Dan Beacock, graduated from the school’s music department. Amanda Currie, Will’s older sister, is the only member who’s not a Laurier alumnus.

The six-piece has been applauded for reviving pop in the classic sense. They got off to an unconventionally fast start for an indie band, signing with Murderecords and releasing their debut EP, A Great Stage, less than a year after forming in 2008.

“I think people do have to pay their dues a lot longer than we did,” Currie said. “It was amazing, we’re definitely super lucky that way, to get out of the gate so quickly.”

After Murderecords’ recent split from Sony BMG, the Country French merged with a new label, File Under: Music, joining other Canadian musicians like Dan Mangan.

With their rapid success, the Country French found themselves touring for weeks at a time during the school year. Despite the band’s bookings, dropping out of school never crossed their minds.

“We’re having a lot of success right now and it’s fantastic but there’s really no sure thing,” Currie said, adding that professors were generally flexible with the band’s schedule and on occasion granted extensions on assignments.

“We had all decided that we were going to go to university and get our degrees and nothing really changed in that mindset.”

Currie, the band’s main lyricist, said he wrote most of the songs for their first full-length record, Awake, You Sleepers!, before he graduated in 2010.

“Being a music student really influenced it just in the sense that we were around such great musicians all day, every day,” Currie, a percussion major, said.

“Some of us were taking composition courses and things like that and working in different genres of music, but all the while developing musicality, which was really helpful.” Individually, the band enjoys a range of genres — a few of them will book small blues shows for fun.

“Personally as musicians we’re still very diverse people with different creative outlets.” The Country French — who aren’t actually French — are dedicating 2012 to being on the road. Besides promoting the new album, they don’t have any set plans for the future.

“We’re basically just trying to tour this record; it just came out so we’re not necessarily thinking ahead in terms of next record yet,” Currie said. “It’s a show year.

“Perhaps someone has a master plan out there and I’m not really sure what it is.”

Will Currie & the Country French play at the Mansion on Feb. 8 at 9 p.m.

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