Bubblegum Brothers

One man sets out to prove that "soul" can be taught.


OK, so the thing about my brother is my brother always had schemes - always. Forever plotting and planning for the next big score. So when I called to tell him that he needs to move to Japan, I know just the right words to use. Dude, it's the land of opportunity over here. Forget go west, young man, instead go east. But can I get paid? Yeah, you can get paid. He comes over and sets right to work.

First, he's got this psychic friend phone exchange thing. Then there's an import-export scheme selling stamps from Palau. And there's the ever-present phone card scam. Whatever it is, he knows it's going to be the next big thing. And he's loving it. Bro, good call. This Japan thing is great. And one night, he takes me out to see a show. He promises that these guys are going to be the next big thing. Huge, huge, I guarantee it. All right man. We go - and it's terrible.


WASHINGTON: Two Japanese guys called the Maryoka (ph) Brothers, or something, and they're doing some kind of awful James Brown impersonation - horrible, horrible like they're wearing blackface horrible. Trying to be black and it's so bad I'm embarrassed for them. My bro drags me backstage after the show and the two guys looking all downcast - they cheer up when they see him. My bro tells them not to worry.

No problem, fellas. (Foreign language spoken). I'm going to hook you all up with some soul. (Foreign language spoken.) And I'm like, good luck with that. No dude, help me help them. Don't you see? We'll, think of some corny English line to stick in the song and we can't lose. I tell them there's not enough soul in the world to help these fools. So it's maybe three months later, my brother takes me out again. And it's not 'til we're at the club having a drink that he springs it on me. Hey, hey, remember that group I was working with? Well, everything is fixed. They're about to come out now. I want to go on tour with them.

I laughed out loud. Brother, they suck. They suck so bad their suckiness is going to suck around and suck up other stuff that sucks. I told you, I fixed it. Throw in some nonsense lines, some English words, it's all set. We're going on a 12 city tour. Right. Watch the crowd, see if I'm lying. The guys come out and a few of the ladies actually scream. This time, they've cleaned up wearing these aluminum foily suits and they've got a new name, The Bubblegum Brothers.


WASHINGTON: And immediately I have to admit, something is different. They've got a headshake, a confidence, a swagger. And it's not their swagger, it's his swagger - my brother's. And then I hear him singing along.


WASHINGTON: It was kind of nice. My brother's like, wait for it, wait for it. They've got a line. The uptown Tokyo slamming night. What did they say? Uptown Tokyo slamming night? Did you make that up? You didn't make that up. Who made that up? I told you, man. I'm going to make big cash. It's going to be the next big thing.


WASHINGTON: And here's the story - my brother's actually right. The song ends up being the next big thing. A huge, crazy, super monster hit. But the tour bus takes off without him on it. My brother doesn't make a dime. Not a single yen. He acts like he doesn't care but being his older sibling, I love pouring salt in new wounds.

And I ask him, what's up with those Bubblegum Brothers? And he's like, forget them, man. That's old news. But hey, if you've got some extra change, you're not going to believe the deal I got going on a robot sake bar.

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