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Department of Eagles Biography


Home > Music > D > Department of Eagles > Biography


Birth Place: New York City, New York, U.S.
Years Active: 2001 - Present
Genres: Experimental Rock, Folktronica, Indie Rock


Department of Eagles is a band formed in 2000 by friends and New York University roommates Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear and Fred Nicolaus. The roommates created music from collected samples, assembled into songs and recorded with pirated recording software and a microphone borrowed from their neighbor, Chris Taylor, who later became Rossen's bandmate in Grizzly Bear, as well as Department of Eagles’ producer and recording engineer. Their name is a reference to artist Marcel Broodthaers' Institutional Critique.

The duo's music combines folk, electronica and other influences. Initially, Rossen and Nicolaus planned on distributing their dorm room beats-and-samples album only among friends, but they ended up releasing some of these early tracks on two limited-edition vinyl singles on California-based independent label Isota Records. They recorded additional tracks for these singles and for their debut album with producer Jeff Saltzman, the father of a friend from NYU.

During this period the duo went by the tongue-in-cheek name Whitey on the Moon UK. However, to avoid a dispute with a San Francisco-based band of the same name (excepting the UK), they changed their name to Department of Eagles before the release of their debut full-length album. “The Whitey on the Moon UK LP” saw release in the U.S. on Isota Records in 2003. It was later reissued in the U.K. as “The Gold Nose” and released in 2008.

In 2004 Rossen began writing more folk-based material and experimenting with layered vocals, and in late 2004 he joined Grizzly Bear. The following summer they recorded their first album as a four piece, “Yellow House.” In the meantime, Nicolaus continued to write and pass demos to Rossen. In January 2006, the band began work on a second LP in Berkeley, California. Though the sessions were ultimately deemed a failure, much of the resulting material can be found on the “Archive 2003-2006” collection, released in 2010.

In 2007 the band began a second attempt at a new record in New York City, this time with Rossen's Grizzly Bear bandmates Christopher Bear, and Chris Taylor. This album, “In Ear Park,” was released by 4AD in October 2008.