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Fred Nicolaus of Department of Eagles

The Eagle Has Landed

Like the thick fog that swallows San Francisco on winter mornings, In Ear Park, the second LP from New York duo Department of Eagles, is comforting and unsettling all at once. Recorded in a New York church, the album meanders from flowering guitar arrangements to light-footed folk stomp in a reverb-drenched haze. Fred Nicolaus, one half of the duo that includes Daniel Rossen (also a member of Grizzly Bear), spoke about the album and the bands first extensive tour during a phone interview from Manhattan. The band performs at Caf du Nord on January 25th.

SF Station (SFS): There is a lot of talk about Daniel and what he does with Grizzly Bear when he is not working with you on Department of Eagles. What do you do when you are not with DOE?

Fred Nicolaus (FN): I have a day job as an editor with a consumer guide. Im kind of on the verge of quitting, and I might actually quit tomorrow. This could be the last day that I officially say I have a day job.

SFS: Are you planning on doing music full time?

FN: We have the tour in January, and there are a couple of things coming up during the rest of the year, but Grizzly Bear stuff is really going to take over for Dan in the spring. There will be some DOE stuff to do in the immediate future, but after that, I dont know. I might have to wander hippy style across the country to try to find my next thing.

SFS: Have you been doing much songwriting on your own?

FN: I write songs on my own but I usually do them with the intent of working with Daniel. I dont really have aspirations for a solo project. Weve been working together for nine years, and Im so used to working with him its kind of hard for me to conceive of doing a song on my own.

SFS: Have you ever worked without him?

FN: Ive done a couple of remixes and stuff like that. Its weird; Ive gotten into a habit of working with him and I almost feel like a song really isnt done until Ive sent it to him. Its hard for me to imagine breaking out solo style.

SFS: Did recording the album in a church prompt any changes in the music?

FN: I didnt cause any changes in the songwriting, but once you have an amazing space to work with you become inclined to use it. At a studio, you usually rely on an effects pedal or Pro Tools for reverb. When you have a cavernous space to record in, the inclination is to do things that take advantage of that. The reverb on No One Does It Like You really comes from recording in the church and the song Classical Records has a lot of sound effects from the church.

SFS: You didnt perform much with Daniel before this record. Has that changed you relationship musically?

FN: I hasnt really changed our relationship. Its interesting because Dan is a veteran playing live with Grizzly Bear and I am sort of a newbie. We played in Europe a couple weeks ago, and my first concert there was only my third or fourth time performing in front of people. Its kind of a weird trial by fire for me. Its opened up some things that we havent done before, so its both stressful and interesting.

SFS: I imagine that is a bit stressful. Were those first shows intimidating?

FN: It can be very intimidating. Our real tour hasnt begun yet, so come to the show and I might start crying on stage. That would be a good reason to come.

Department of Eagles will perform twice at Caf du Nord on January 25th at 7pm and 10pm. Doors open 30 minutes before each show and tickets are $15.