Steve Perez, otherwise known as D-Tension, has made his presence well-known across the New England music scene, both as a rapper and a radio personality (980 WCAP, 101.7 WFNX). His group, Los Wunder Twins Del Rap, with fellow Lowell artist Effect, cut a swath of quirky, eccentric hip-hop during the late ’00s, while his solo work has earned praise among New England’s underground hip-hop heads, including collaborations with the likes of local greats Esoteric, Termanology, Akrobatik, and even Lenny Lashley (Street Dogs / Darkbuster).
Now he sits down with us to answer…
5 QUESTIONS FOR…D-TENSION
What’s the last GREAT album you’ve recently listened to?
To me the greatness of an album doesn’t manifest itself ‘til many, many listens. So it’s hard to say that an album that just came out is “great.” However I can say that much to my surprise I love every song on the new Arcade Fire album, “Everything Now.” It’s different for them and I do like that band, but they have this whole ’80s synth-pop thing on this record that I didn’t expect. More importantly the songs are great. The lyrics are poetry. So even if you took away the ’80s style you’d still have excellent songs.
What band or artist would you most like to share a bill with?
That’s tough because I’ve shared the stage with most of my favorite hip hop acts, and now that we’re in the mumble rap eras I don’t desire to even be in the same room with those guys. Not because they’re bad guys, I’m sure they’re lovely humans. OK I’m not sure of that at all, but the music doesn’t speak to me. It’s not for me at all. Who’s left that could answer this question? I wish Ad Rock would do a solo record. I’d tour with him and that would be amazing. I’m touring with DMX in September. But I’ve done that before. Sometimes he shows up.
What passions and hobbies do you follow outside of music?
My passion in life is baseball. It’s my religion. It’s a metaphor for life. I also like to travel and find dope restaurants around the world. I’m also an old school wrestling encyclopedia. I’m also a kinky bastard.
What’s the one thing about the music scene as a whole you’d like to change?
The music business has changed so much that I’m not sure what exists that I should change it. I do know that people now seem to think everything is free. People don’t pay for music or movies. The last place that’s left is a cover charge for live shows. I’m no longer able to make a living selling records so can I at least get the people to pay the cover without losing their minds about it?
Think about it this way. The cover charge for my shows is the same now as it was 20 years ago. Where else do you get Zero price inflation? In 1995 people paid the cover. Flash to 2017 and people refuse to pay the cover. They don’t even understand why there would be a cover. It’s mind boggling.
What in the Lowell scene do you miss the most, be it a band, a venue, or whatever?
I miss my old bar, The Safe, but it’s a new era and people don’t support live music like they used to. Kids have basement shows, the DJ is now a rock star, and there are NO venues. There are bars that have live music but they’re not dedicated to live music on a professional level. I perform best with a stage and lights and a good sound crew and monitors. That died with my bar. We were really dedicated to being a venue first. In the end that bar died because of a toxic partnership, but it could have done better.
One thing that is different now vs. years ago in Lowell is that years ago the bands all went to each others shows. The audience was largely made up of other musicians. Now we would have a show and it would have a decent crowd, but then I’d walk around town and the local musicians were scattered around all the other bars on a Saturday night. That never would have happened before. The Safe used to be a full time club house for musicians. We didn’t even go anywhere else. We sincerely thought that with The Shods, Jen Kearney, Melvern Taylor, Frank Morey, etc. that we might be the next Seattle. We were at The Safe six nights a week. We also all played Boston and NYC regularly. Now a Lowell band doesn’t even seem to try to get into other markets. We all had record deals! Now it’s like Ward 8 or Thirsty First or bust. Where is the ambition? If you play your cards right and have work ethic, good songs, and you work hard you could see the world and get paid to do it.
I don’t mean to sound like an old man. Things change. I would just love to see some career-minded bands make a real run at taking over the world. But in order to do that…you might need to pay a cover!
I don’t want to be a dick. This is what’s missing to me. I could be wrong.
D-Tension’s music is available to purchase and stream at www.d-tension.com. His new album, “Violence Of Zen,” which features appearances by Diamond D, Akrobatik, Pacewon, Ghosts of Jupiter, and more will be available there soon. He also produces the 980 WCAP radio program Big Fun Friday w/ Jack Baldwin, which airs Fridays at 3:00 PM. – Lee Martin