The Scotsman Sessions #392: Cloud House
If you get the chance to ask Conor McCarry, lead singer with Glasgow band Cloud House, about the time he sang with Green Day, make clear which time you’re talking about.
“It's happened twice!” he says. “When I was 15, I saw them at the SECC. I'm a massive Green Day fan, they’ve always been my favourite band, and I was conscious they brought people up from the audience to sing certain songs. I felt so confident, I just kept believing, trying to kind of manifest it.
“It got to the song Longview, and Billy Joe [Armstrong] walks over to me and says ‘you know the words, get your ass on this stage.’ I expected to get a couple of lines, but I sang the full song. It was madness, absolute madness, a proper life-changing moment.”
Then it happened again. “Seven years later I drove to see them in Leeds on a whim, because I got the chance of a last-minute ticket. I thought, is it possible it’ll happen again? It got to the same song, and Billie Joe walks over and pulls me up again! After that moment, singing in front of 10,000 or 12,000 people, I knew I needed to do this with my own songs.”
McCarry’s future bandmates Calum Wray and Morgan Cardwell were both at the Glasgow show, although he didn’t know them yet. In fact, music wasn’t his first love. Raised in Castlemilk on Glasgow’s Southside, he acted when he was younger, and successfully auditioned for a part in Peter Berg’s 2010 blockbuster Battleship.
“I was 15, I went to America to do it, and it really kicked off the acting bug,” he says. Studying acting at Motherwell College, he later took roles in BBC dramas The Night Manager and Shetland, all the time playing music in bars. He met guitarist Patrick Wallace through acting, and they added bassist Wray, saxophonist and keyboard player Cardwell, and drummer Jack Hughes, forming Cloud House. They played their first Scottish tour in 2022, a UK tour this year, and festivals are lined up for 2024. Their seven-track EP Still Here was released last month, including their Scotsman Sessions song Wasting Time – played here by McCarry and Wallace.
“It’s the most chilled-out song on the EP,” says McCarry. “We've always wanted to do an acoustic version of it, so it was a nice opportunity to show that side of the song. I lost my mum two years ago, and the EP and this song in particular are based on my feelings around that. I had to move out of the house I'd lived in for 20 years, but I used to drive back to it and just sit outside, it was the one place where I had this memory of my mum, this physical representation of her.
“One day I realised how much time I'd been wasting going back there, and that I couldn't really ever change things. It was a moment where I learned to move on and grieve properly, so the whole song is about going through that. My mum was given three years to live and lived for 20 – she was an absolute superhuman, and that’s what I’ve tried to capture in these songs.”
Cloud House’s Still Here EP is out now, see www.linktr.ee/cloudhouseband