D-Tension knows this is not his ‘Kenmore Square’
The scathing new single from the Boston music scene veteran laments a changing city
Photo Credit: Adam Parshall
“The song is a nostalgic look at the neighborhood that was once the center of all things music in the city of Boston,” says D-Tension. “It isn’t that kind of neighborhood anymore.”
Boston, Mass. -- Roll into any neighborhood around Boston these days, and it’s nearly unrecognizable from what it was 30... 20… even 10 years ago. The times they are a changin’, with gentrification, homogenization, and a beige cookie-cutter staleness permeating through areas that used to boast culture, the arts, and its own unique identity.
Take Kenmore Square, for example.
The centralized Boston neighborhood has undergone a massive renovation over the past 20 years, and its new identity -- or lack thereof -- is the source of D-Tension’s scathing new single, “Kenmore Square.” When the Lowell musician belts out the refrain “This used to be a rock and roll town -- now it’s Anywhere USA”, it’s impossible to not agree with the sentiment.
While D-Tension is known for his decades-long work in the hip-hop community, “Kenmore Square” is a punk song for 2021 -- reminiscing about the Boston music scene’s glory days at The Rat, Bill’s Bar, and even discotheque Narcissus. D-Tension’s Kenmore Square was a colorful, lively, and diverse place -- smoking with Mr. Butch (who graces the single’s cover art), hitting Deli Haus, Pizza Pad, and Captain Nemo’s, crashing Planet Records, and seeing all the cool bands: ‘Til Tuesday, Gang Green, Pixies, The Cars, The Shods, The Atlantics, and The Pills all get shout-outs. He even recalls $20 tickets to go see the Red Sox. Now twenty bucks couldn’t even park your car a mile away from Fenway Park down Commonwealth Avenue.
Set for streaming release on Monday, March 29 after its official premiere on Bay State Rock, “Kenmore Square” was originally penned for One Night Band, the annual Boston musician mixer at The Sinclair that takes 40 artists and creates eight new bands for one night only. D-Tension wrote and sang the track at last year’s event back in January, part of his new band for the evening, The Yellow Shots, composed of Brooke Feinberg, Tanya Venom, Hannah Schzde and Monte Darbouz.
“At the time of the event I drove through the now gentrified Kenmore Square,” says D-Tension, “and said to my friend ‘Wow this is not my Kenmore Square’ -- who then said ‘that should be a song!’ A few hours later, it was.”
“Kenmore Square” touches on all the things D-Tension experienced there growing up, and the lively and instantly memorable lyrics should resonate with anyone who grew up in Massachusetts. Shortly after the track hits digital platforms -- Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Tidal -- its official music video will premiere on YouTube on Wednesday, March 31.
“It was a true moment of inspiration,” says D-Tension about the One Night Band writing process, where the bands are matched in the morning, then are asked to play original new songs later that night. “I am known for having an absurdly detailed memory. I just jotted down everything that was flying through my head in that moment; shows I'd been to, experiences I had as a teenager, etc. The only challenge was making it all rhyme. The song went from idea to finished in under an hour.”
All of D-Tension’s Yellow Shots bandmates from One Night Band play on the track, except for Feinberg. “Which kills me,” D-Tension admits, “because she should have but we recorded it in the height of the lock down from home and she had no studio access. So I played sampled drums. But she’s in the video and this is very much her song, too.”
The collaborative effort from D-Tension isn’t not limited to “Kenmore Square”; in fact, it’s just the start of it. His new album, D-Tension’s Secret Rock And Roll Project, is the awaited follow-up to 2014’s D-Tension’s Secret Project, and is set for an April 2 release on Bandcamp Friday. The new LP finds D-Tension front and center, singing all the songs across a 10-track rock record, featuring collaborations with Brian Viglione of Dresden Dolls, guitar heroes Amy Griffin and Dave Pino, Agnostic Front’s Craig Silverman, Stormstress’ Tanya Venom, Danny Carney, and others.
‘Kenmore Square’ single artwork:
Dad, recording artist, hip hop MC/poet, producer, radio personality, writer, actor, retired comic, mediocre guitar player, grouchy optimist -- D-Tension wears many hats in the music and radio business. He currently produces and reports for iHeart Radio and clients, and has worked at 101.7 WFNX, Magic 106.7 and WCAP in Lowell, MA. He is a hip-hop artist and producer, with music heard globally and appearing in film, TV, and advertisements. He also works as an actor and is a member of SAG. He’s a father and husband, and resides in Lowell, MA, a city rich with art, international cuisine and music. You’re probably friends with him in real life.
Credits on D-Tension’s Secret Rock And Roll Project:
Collaborators: Brian Viglione, Dave Pino, Craig Silverman, Amy Griffin, Tanya Venom, Matthew Klain, Danny Carney, Hannah Schzde, Monte Darbouze, Josh Fleishmann, Brian Coakley, and FJ Ventre.
1. “Kenmore Square”
2. “Know No Know”
3.” That’s Alright”
4. “It Ain’t All About You”
5. “The Night We Regret”
6.” Fast One”
8. “Joanna Strikes Back”
9. “Idata del Gaucho”
D-Tension: Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, piano, synths and Akai MPC2000
with help from:
“Kenmore Square”: Tanya Venom (guitar), Hannah Schzde (violin), Monte Darbouze (bass), Secret Drummer (drums)
“That’s Alright”: Amy Griffin (guitar solo), Brian Viglione (drums), FJ Ventre (upright bass)
“It Ain’t All About You”: Dave Pino (guitar solo), Josh Fleischmann (drums), Brian Coakley (bass)
“Fast One”: Craig Silverman (guitar solo)
“Away”: Matthew Klain (bass), Danny Carney (guitar solo)
D-Tension’s Secret Rock And Roll Project album artwork:
Photo Credit: Sky Perez