All Around The World: Rainburn's Vats Iyengar discusses India's prog scene

A press shot of Rainburn

In the seven years between Steven Wilson’s two visits to India – the first with Porcupine Tree – the country’s progressive music scene has come a long way. In 2009, being in a prog band was virtually unheard of, but seven years later, local act Rainburn helped to set up a successful travelling prog festival in India. It’s something that not many people would have put money on. The band’s frontman Vats Iyengar was taken aback by the overwhelming response. “This sort of thing has never been done before in India,” he reveals. “We wanted to give it a real festival vibe, so we added local bands in every city. There were hardcore prog audiences in every city, but a lot of people, not necessarily prog lovers, were drawn to it out of a sense of curiosity.”

The current crop of Indian prog bands tap into this curiosity, and use it to create some of today’s most vital and eclectic music. This eclecticism is bringing together audiences from across the genre-divide, as Iyengar notes, “The scope of prog is so vast that a huge variety of different bands can comfortably fit under the umbrella.”

Rainburn formed in 2011 in the metal-obsessed city of Bangalore, and are on the heavier end of the prog spectrum. Their music is an amalgamation of Pain Of Salvation, late-career Death, Rush and Shakti, built on the bedrock of Iyengar’s nuanced guitar work. Rainburn’s exquisitely balanced debut EP, Canvas Of Silence, reveals a breadth that extends far beyond the constraints of the prog metal label. Although many of the genre’s standard tropes are present – what prog metal band worth their salt doesn’t have a riff in 138? – what sets Rainburn apart are some of their more unusual influences. This includes Bangalore’s ubiquitous Carnatic music and the subtlety of which it’s incorporated into their sound.

Last year saw the release of the live single Elusive Light, which was recorded on the Progworks On Wheels Tour, and a new single, Merchant Of Dreams is due out in May. In the meantime, the band are working on the follow-up to Canvas Of Silence, which Iyengar assures Prog will be out next year. Rainburn are certainly keeping India’s prog wheels well oiled!

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