In Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the lives of patients at an Oregon state mental hospital are turned upside down by the presence of a rebellious new admission who seeks to overturn the tyrannical reign of the facility’s head nurse.
Taking inspiration as well as their band name from this uplifting story, the members of Springfield-area band Humble Patients are seeking to upend the status quo as well. Only instead of taking on Nurse Ratched, the group is targeting the state of popular music.
Formed in the fall of 2011 by AJ Del Negro (“upside down righty bass lefty style,” vocals), Tommy Del Negro (“lefty jazz,” rhythm guitar, vocals), Nicky Ferrara (lead guitar, vocals) and MJ McNulty (drums), Humble Patients started after an impromptu jam session that occurred when Ferrara returned home from a summer spent in New Orleans and found all his future band mates between acts.
“We got together to jam one day and liked what we heard,” the band reports via email. “In the beginning, we all had to bend our styles to fit with each other, but over the last year we’ve learned a lot, and have been able to really work off each other.”
That evolution has paid off with the recording of a demo that is now available on the group’s Reverbnation page. Featuring three tracks—“Tentacle Love,” “Someone Else’s Name,” and “Repugnant Qualities (Of Your Face)”—the work showcases a mix of experimental music that includes touches of rock and jazz.
“When writing music, we like to mix it up,” the band notes. “Some songs start as a riff, and we work together to fill in the blank spots. Other songs are brought to the band by either Nick, AJ, or Tom in [the] form of a ‘skeleton’—a general harmony with lyrics.”
The band has played numerous charitable events, including the Studio 307 Battle of the Bands, which benefitted the Folds of Honor Foundation (an organization that seeks to provide scholarships and assistance to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in action). And the group cautions that people who come to a show shouldn’t “expect your average thoughtless, noisy, four chord ‘music.’”
“When coming to see us, people should expect to dance and to hear something new and have a few drinks, because we go well with a brew,” the band says. “We are always in the process of writing new music. We recently recorded a demo at Studio 307 in Stafford Springs, Conn. We hope to make a full LP soon.”