Real-Life Pain & Gain Star Ed DuBois Composes Ode to Torture Plot
The bluesy track starts with eerie piano chords and a spooky fiddle. Then a deep, raspy voice croons, "They stole my money, they took my home. Left me on the street, to die alone. I live in paradise, so they say. Things shouldn't be this way. Paaaaaiiinnn, pain and gain."
That's the first verse to a private-eye's ode to the most gruesome case he's ever worked on, a caper so dastardly and pulpy it inspired a three-part series in Miami New Times in the late '90s that in turn formed the basis of a new star-studded film set to hit theaters nationwide April 26.
- Read the three-part series Pain & Gain.
Banana Republican is talking about Pain & Gain, the big-budget flick shot in Miami by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson. The two headliners portray shady characters based on the real-life members of the Sun Gym Gang, a crew of homicidal muscle heads that used torture and mayhem to extort money from victims in late 1994 and early 1995.
Almost four minutes long, the ditty called "Pain & Gain -- Retribution Song" isn't just any attempt at a Hollywood tie-in. The piece was composed by Ed DuBois, the private investigator who broke the case and who is played onscreen by actor Ed Harris. "I had a lot of fun writing this song," says DuBois, who pens his own music as a hobby. "It came out pretty damn good."
Without DuBois, there would be no story, movie, or song, and the Sun Gym Gang members would have gotten away with their crimes. DuBois's saga began with a phone call the morning of December 16, 1994. Accountant Marc Schiller was on the other line. From his hospital bed, a badly injured Schiller relayed his harrowing story of how the Sun Gym Gang kidnapped him, tortured him for a month, stole everything he owned, and almost killed him.
Despite Schiller's outlandish yarn, DuBois accepted the job of investigating the crooks. Once he obtained proof that Schiller was telling the truth, he went to Miami-Dade police investigators, who initially dismissed DuBois's story. But when the Sun Gym Gang brutally killed two victims -- wealthy executive Frank Griga and his girlfriend -- the cops finally busted the gang.
Following the arrests, DuBois convinced Miami crime reporter Pete Collins to write a book about the gang. The book deal never happened, but New Times ran three cover stories between December 1999 and January 2000. Bay read the series, and the rest is history.
With all the hype surrounding the film, DuBois wanted to leave his own mark on the twisted tale. He played a rough cut for Clay Ostwald, a former band member of Miami Sound Machine, and Tommy Anthony, a guitarist for Santana.
"Both of them loved it and joined me on the final recording," says DuBois, who's selling the cut on iTunes and CD Baby.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: thefrankness.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.