New God's 'Firework,' Celebrating Childhood Joys Of Summer

Brothers Kenny and Curt Thompkins were inspired to record an album in a racquetball court after hearing the acoustics there last year. The result appears in their new album, out this week.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And it certainly is true that going to the beach is one of the many joys of summer, one that is celebrated on a new album called Firework. The duo making that music - two brothers based just outside of Washington, D.C.

NPR's Leah Scarpelli paid a visit to their unconventional studio.

LEAH SCARPELLI, BYLINE: In an old racquetball court outside D.C., Kenny and Curt Tompkins jump into the title track of their new album, "Firework."

CURT TOMPKINS: (Singing) Riding a skateboard, all of the wheels stuck.

And there you have it. (Laughing).

SCARPELLI: Their band is called New God. And about a year ago, Kenny says, they stumbled upon this court while writing music outside.

KENNY TOMPKINS: I think our pants were getting wet sitting on the ground so we were like, let's just walk around or something...

CURT TOMPKINS: Yeah, definitely. And we decided just to come inside.

K. TOMPKINS: ...And we came in here, and then once we started singing in here, it was pretty clear that this was a good place to sing things.

C. TOMPKINS: Yeah.

SCARPELLI: And so the brothers decided to record their album right here on the racquetball court.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIREWORK")

NEW GOD: (Singing) Will she be there, firework, firework, firework?

SCARPELLI: "Firework" is an obvious reference to the Fourth of July, a holiday Kenny associates with young love.

K. TOMPKINS: Fourth of July is a time when you would see all the kids from your school, like, in the middle of the summer, and that girl or boy or whomever you were hoping would notice you; that was your chance to hope to see them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMMER GIRL")

NEW GOD: (Singing) Oh, my summer girl, would you take my hand?

SCARPELLI: And it's those simple summer pleasures that run through the album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMMER GIRL")

NEW GOD: (Singing) While we're in the sun, walking in the sand.

SCARPELLI: After we talk in the racquetball court, we wander to the edge of a soccer field just down the hill. It's a muggy July night and, other than the distant sound of traffic, the surrounding urban sprawl of Washington, D.C. seems to disappear. It was in the quietness of this field where Kenny and Kurt Tompkins, now 32 and 29, wrote about the childhood memories that appear on their album; the luxury of a little swimming pool where they grew up in rural West Virginia, skateboarding in their front lawn - there are no sidewalks in their hometown.

K. TOMPKINS: And probably the thing that was most special to us was the beach.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OCEAN HUM")

NEW GOD: (Singing) I went to the ocean.

K. TOMPKINS: The station wagon had to like, be tuned up and we all were like, oh man I hope the car makes it.

C. TOMPKINS: Could not make this Americana up. Once a year, yeah, the little beach house - as cheap as we could get, but as close as we could get.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OCEAN HUM")

NEW GOD: (Singing) I was in the water. Having such a good time.

SCARPELLI: As the brothers get older, they value those memories even more.

K. TOMPKINS: Our generation is really stuck trying to revel in and love all the opportunities that technology has brought, but also I like, - there's no other word for it - pine for the simplicity of the pre-Internet age.

SCARPELLI: Then, almost on cue, a wild animal appears from the trees surrounding the field.

C. TOMPKINS: Is it a deer or a fox?

SCARPELLI: A fox stares back at us.

K. TOMPKINS: That's a fox. That's a beautiful adult fox.

SCARPELLI: Leah Scarpelli, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMMER GIRL")

NEW GOD: (Singing) Oh, don't mean anything.

MONTAGNE: The band is New God and the album "Firework," it's out this week. This is NPR News.

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