Terry Cuddy, of Auburn band A Cast of Thousands, is used to mixing its albums himself.
But for its seventh, "Sleeping World," the band worked with mixer Eric Harvey, a friend of Cuddy's from Alfred University who went on to play in the indie rock band Spoon from 2004 to 2017.
And when Cuddy got back what Harvey mixed, sometimes he hardly recognized the band he heard.
"It was kind of a culture shock. He really thought about things we'd never have done otherwise," Cuddy said Tuesday. "He'd send me mixes and I'd be like, 'How did he do that?'"
A Cast of Thousands will perform "Sleeping World" in full at a release party for the album Friday at the Carriage House Theater behind the Cayuga Museum.
The Kickstarter-funded album is somewhat of a departure from the lo-fi indie sound of the band's previous ones, Cuddy said. It began taking shape when he sent Harvey a copy of A Cast of Thousands' fifth album, 2017's "The Fifth." Harvey challenged Cuddy to have someone else mix it, and he obliged on the next year's "The Beige," whose raw tracks were reworked by Harvey.
But for "Sleeping World," Harvey's influence on the band's sound grew to the point he was also credited as co-producer with Cuddy. Harvey would ask him and the band's other members — bassist Beth Beer, drummer Jim Andrews and guitarist Terry Quill — to redo their parts. He'd suggest adding violins or synths. And he'd use early takes the band might have thrown away.
"He gave the album more of a sonic space that I couldn't create with the tools that I had," said Cuddy, who noted that he mixed the band's albums with Logic Pro, whereas Harvey used Pro Tools.
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The result is 10 songs that each point to a genre of 20th century pop, Cuddy said, from beach rock ("Hot Summer Nights") and '80s pop to country ("To Be a Woman") and classic rock.
Though the album retains the band's signature interplay between Cuddy and his wife Beer — his songwriting's more experimental, hers more narrative — the sound of each song stands alone.
"We really produced each song as though it's going to be a single and not part of an album," Cuddy said.
Indeed, A Cast of Thousands has already released three music videos for the album. The band has performed at the Carriage House Theater on Black Friday for several years, Cuddy said, so he tried to have "Sleeping World" ready for release by then. But that meant finishing the album by June, as its vinyl pressing in the Czech Republic would take several months.
With all that time, the band put more effort into promoting "Sleeping World" than previous albums, Cuddy said. It also took the opportunity to promote other local talent: Auburnians Jesse Conti and Joe Librandi-Cowan directed the videos for first two singles "Big White Lie" and "Fantasy," and Cuddy's nephew Liam Cuddy directed the third, "Hot Summer Nights."
Cuddy, an Auburn city councilor who also teaches new media at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, made the third video part of a class project. His students researched the Frankie Avalon movie the song satirizes, "Beach Blanket Bingo," recruited local actors and edited the video. Friday's performance will be accompanied by all three videos and other multimedia connected to the album, Cuddy said.
Cuddy hopes the band's collaboration with local artists — and the adventurous new album that inspired it — leads more eyes and ears to A Cast of Thousands, he said.
"We hope this gets people to view our work, listen to our songs and hopefully come to see us play on Friday," he said.
WATCH: A Cast of Thousands, "Hot Summer Nights"
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