Clarkston band gears up for release of its first full-length album

By Dominique Wald

CLARKSTON — El Pelican drummer Joe Hightower has been saying “without music, life would be a mistake” as far back as high school.

The quote still resonates with him today as he and his Clarkston band gear up for the release party of their first full-length album this weekend at Hogan’s Pub in Clarkston.

What started as a hobby eventually turned into what Hightower, 31, and guitarist Brian Baugh, 33, of El Pelican describe as an “enjoyable part-time job” that has made it possible for them to record and put together their album, “Self Aware Universe.” When they’re not moonlighting as rock ’n’ roll musicians, Hightower works at a consulting company and Baugh is employed at a health foods manufacturer.

Baugh and Hightower of Clarkston formed El Pelican in 2013 after Baugh had accumulated four year’s worth of lyrics he penned. The two went to high school together and officially met through a mutual musician friend.

“I semi-released an album in 2009 and, since then, I knew I wanted to record a rock ’n’ roll album,” Baugh said. “We formed El Pelican and started working hard to put this together. … It’s been a long time coming.”

Hightower said starting a band in a smaller community poses many more advantages than one would think.

“It helps us write original music, and everyone kind of knows everyone, too,” he said. “It’s easier to create a following.”

“It allows us to go our own way,” Baugh said. “It’s really easy to be influenced by other bands in big cities, but here we’re allowed to be on our own.”

Each song on the album, Baugh and Hightower said, is a departure from the previous, making “Self Aware Universe” a diverse and eclectic collection.

“Indie rock is a really vague way to describe our sound,” Hightower said. “We try to make our music different.”

Lewiston band Astronaut and the Trees will perform an opening set before El Pelican takes the stage.

El Pelican will also be embarking on a small tour across the Pacific Northwest. Hightower and Baugh said details will be posted on their website,

If you go What: El Pelican album release party When: Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, music starts at 10 p.m. Where: Hogan’s Pub, 906 Sixth St., Clarkston Cost: $5 for entrance, $10 includes cover and a copy of the album.

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