Prog Metal Supergroup Icefish in India This Week
Drumming virtuoso Virgil Donati on coming back to the country with a different project, promoting their new album ‘Human Hardware’
While there are still many bands who make their way to India several years late (or sometimes, decades) into their career, there are groups who are willing to make the country among the first stops. After the recently reunited metal supergroup Nitro made their India debut last year, there’s Italian prog band Icefish heading to India to close off their debut tour, on February 23rd in Bengaluru.
Icefish, who came together in 2015, comprises drummer extraordinaire Virgil Donati (part of prog bands such as Planet X and guitarist Scott Henderson’s setup), guitarist Marco Sfogli (part of Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie’s solo project), vocalist-bassist Andrea Casali and keyboardist Alex Argento. They crowdfunded and released their debut album Human Hardware in October last year, which Donati counts as an important exercise in building a fanbase. Donati says over email, “Given this is a new band, it does give you a chance to build awareness and interest, leading up to the release date.”
The band gained more attention for their debut single “It Begins,” which released in September, showing off solid, groovy prog that’s esoteric as well as emotive. Finding a vocalist like Casali who adds a sublime vocal texture was important for the band. Donati says, “In prog music, there is also a strong focus on the instrumentalists, and the vocal character, and the charisma of the vocalist needs to shine through. We were lucky enough to find someone who not only meets all the criteria as a vocalist, but also shines on the bass. And to see how he coordinates both with the music we’ve written, is a sight to behold.”
Their first stop in India, put together by musician Sandeep Chowta and his team at consultancy agency The Core, is part of a larger tour that’s taken them through home ground in Italy and a show in Malta. Donati says about coming back to India, “I consider myself very fortunate to have had many occasions to come to play in India. For the other band members, this will be their first time. They are fascinated and very curious to come and experience a country that has such a reputation of mystique, and promises a unique world adventure.”
Following a show at the newly opened branch of longstanding venue Opus in Bengaluru, there’s a band workshop as well, where Donati promises “anything goes.” He explains that they’ll do the usual run through their songs and breaking down part. “There will be lots of interaction with the audience, but we will kick it off by analyzing in detail some of the sections of our songs. Given the skill level and proficiency of all the band members, there should be a few surprises,” Donati says.
Admittedly, there is not much downtime – and there is another “more extensive” European tour slated for October or November this year – but Donati laughs when asked about what the band will be up to while in India outside of the shows. “The lure of the amazing Indian cuisine will no doubt dominate our free time.”