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Cloud House: How Fife guitarist went from ‘worst ever gigs’ at PJ Molloys to supporting heroes Big Country

Frightened Rabbit-inspired alt-rockers Cloud House have reinvented the break-up song with their latest release.

Cloud House. Image: Kris Kesiak.
Cloud House. Image: Kris Kesiak.

Cloud House was formed in a hot tub.

This is the story told by the alt-rock outfit’s guitarist, Patrick Wallace, an Aberdour native who is one fifth of the hot new band.

“Our drummer Jack (Hughes) had a hot tub outside his garage,” recalls Patrick, who was “lucky enough” to grow up in the Fife fishing village but now lives in Glasgow.

“We officially decided the name in the tub,” he continues.

“It comes from a Frightened Rabbit song. We’re all massive fans, and when their frontman Scott Hutchison died in 2018, it was a terrible thing.

Cloud House members L-R: Patrick, Jack, Calum, Morgan and Conor. Image: Kris Kesiak.

“Frightened Rabbit had a song called Heads Roll Off and in the second verse he sings ‘I believe in a house in the clouds’. The name was kind of an homage to that.”

New track examines ‘friendship break-ups’

The remainder of that hot tub, so the legend goes, was filled with drummer Jack, bassist Calum Wray, sax and synth maestro Morgan Cardwell, lead singer Conor McCarry and of course Patrick himself.

And though they’re firm friends now, it took a while for the five to find one another.

“I think typically bands when get together, they’re either all pals at school, or they meet at uni, whereas we’re sort of like a ragtag bunch,” explains Patrick.

“I met Conor first, a few years ago. He thought I played the bass, which I didn’t. But in 2018 he asked me to play the bass for this gig, and I was like: ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll play the bass.’

“Then we met Jack and Calum, and Morgan joined us last. We weren’t a friend group to start with, but we are now.”

Cloud House will join Dundee band Red Vanilla at Beat Generator. Image: Supplied.

And friendship is at the heart of the band’s newest single, Broken – a break-up song with a twist.

“It’s not your traditional relationship breakup song. It’s more like mourning the end of a friendship,” he explains, as the co-writer of the lyrics along with Conor.

“Con and I both had pals that were living in London. And I wouldn’t want to say that London changes people, but when you meet up with someone and you suddenly realise that you don’t really have anything in common anymore, it’s a really horrible moment.

“We all talk about how sad we are when a relationship breaks down with our loved one, or, like, if there’s a bereavement, obviously. But we never really talk about friendships in the same way.”

Big Country shout was last-minute dream

Broken comes hot on the heels of Cloud House’s 2023 EP Still Here.

And in 2022, the five-piece caught the eye of Fife legends Big Country, who they supported at the Town House in Hamilton.

“That was one of those emails which we just didn’t expect,” recalls Patrick. “They asked us to do an acoustic set, so we had to scale everything down. We had about a week to prepare. And it was absolutely class.”

Cloud House opened for Fife legend Big Country. Image: Big Country at Rewind 2019, Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

For Patrick, the gig was particularly special as his dad raised him on Big Country’s tunes.

“My dad listened to them a lot when I was growing up, and it’s not often you get to be on stage with a band and everyone knows that band,” he grins. “It was really, really cool.”

Patrick ‘played worst gigs’ in PJ Molloys

But Patrick, who is a trustee of Fife charity The Cookie Jar Foundation and a friend of the late Christopher Coutts, paid his dues in his homeland’s music scene long before he was rewarded with Big Country karma.

He recalls playing “some of my worst ever gigs” at iconic Dunfermline spot PJ Molloys.

“PJs is where I cut my teeth and learned about live music,” says Patrick. “I played some of my worst gigs there. Once, I remember, I had a bandmate answer his mobile phone in the middle of a set!

Patrick Wallace with Christopher Coutts, in whose honour The Cookie Jar Foundation was set up. Image: Supplied.

“Another time I snapped three strings and didn’t have any spares, so I just had to play on like that. I feel sorry for anyone who was watching back then.”

Still, Patrick is a firm believer in grassroots music venues like PJ, and like Dundee’s Beat Generator, where Cloud House are due to play at Red Vanilla‘s hometown headline show.

“It’s so important that these venues stay open,” he says. “Not just PJs, but all the other sort of low level music venues, because if there’s no there’s no grassroots music venues, high school bands don’t have anywhere to jump up.

“Dundee’s really good for that, so we’re looking forward to coming up.”

Cloud House play alongside Red Vanilla at Beat Generator, Dundee, on July 6 2024. 

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