The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Todo Bien. Courtesy photo.

Todo Bien CD Release Party

When: Saturday, March 7, 9 p.m.
Where: Dover Brickhouse, 2 Orchard St., Dover

Pleasing themselves
Todo Bien plays for fans and each other on new album

By Michael Witthaus

The key difference between Todo Bien’s just released Here We Go and its previous album is an absence of crowd noise. The new disc was done live in the studio with the same fervor that’s made the Seacoast band one of the region’s favorite club and concert acts. Regardless of where they perform, the six members feed off each other as much as they play to an audience.

Case in point: a recent on-air appearance at the UNH radio station. 
“The DJ told us, ‘Most bands usually stand in a straight line and they play for us, whereas you guys are in a circle and playing for each other,’” singer and guitarist Skip Brunette said. “That’s one of the things that we really love; we feed off each other’s energy.”
For their first studio album since 2011’s Will To Be, the band decided to self-fund, paying production expenses out of pocket. 
“I’m not against Kickstarter, but there are just so many of them … we really wanted to do it by ourselves,” Brunette said. “Our feeling is the fans were a part of it, because they had to go to the shows for us to get paid.”
Scraping and saving also fueled a sense of purpose that’s key to Todo Bien’s mojo, Brunette said. He’s an artist in residence at local schools. Bassist John Coretto does sound engineering at Casino Ballroom. Johann Robledo gives guitar lessons, and Renee Dupuis teaches keyboard and vocals.  
“Everyone is a working musician. Everyone pooled their money from the gigs to make this happen,” Brunette said. “That’s another element of the family and dedication to the project.” 
Preproduction played a big role in the record’s tight sound, with incessant rehearsal ahead of the sessions. 
“It became second nature, muscle memory for when we went into the studio,” he said, noting that recording took three days. “There was such a sense of accomplishment, everyone left the studio in tears. There was this strange, day-after-the-prom feel … wow, it’s over.”
One of the record’s best songs is the title track, a breezy acoustic number built around a ukulele riff composed by Coretto. It conjures up a beach mood that’s a perfect antidote to the current snowy chill.  
“I think it’s the most lighthearted song I have ever written,” said Brunette. 
The rest of the disc rocks energetically with a reggae-fied surf rock feel. Other standouts are “Time” and “Truth,” two of three tracks redone from the last disc, Todo Bien Live.  
“Those are songs we love so much live that we felt that we wanted to perform them in the studio as well,” said Brunette. ‘We arranged them so they have a little different feel from the live record.”
An urban approach is taken on a few tracks — “Light Up And Live” is a solid example. 
“Kind of a hip-hop crossover … hand percussion, it’s all about the groove for us,” said Brunette. “I’ve always been a huge fan of A Tribe Called Quest, a band that’s a huge influence on me as a writer.” 
They move from tropical to topical on “Oppression,” an outwardly political song that’s a bit of a departure for the band.  
“The whole big business takeover of our country is something that has been needling at me,” Brunette said. “It’s kind of a call to take a look at how it’s oppressing the little guy.” 
In surfer speak, the words Todo Bien translate to “it’s all good,” so the band toes a happy line with the bulk of Here We Go.  
“I listen to music to make myself feel good,” said Brunette. “I certainly don’t want to make music that doesn’t make other people feel good.”  
As seen in the March 5, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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