Into the Sunset with Numbers On Napkins

Valley Frequencies

September 2021

Written By: Mike Farrell

Nearly two decades ago, three musicians walked onto the stage at the very first Arizona Ska Punk Awards Ceremony in Tempe, Arizona in 2003. The floor of the venue was roaring with over 1200 patrons who seemed eager to watch a new local band called Waiting for Tomorrow. To everyone’s surprise, the trio informed everyone in the venue that they had just found out that there was already a band named Waiting for Tomorrow in Canada, and they announced their new name, Numbers On Napkins. NoN only performed two songs, but there wild stage antics managed to pump up the crowd and they demanded an encore. Due to the tight schedule of the awards ceremony, NoN refused the crowds persistent demands, but it was clear to everyone at that show that they were witnessing the start of something special.

NoN developed a strong fanbase in their hometown of Phoenix over the next few months, and released their debut album, Waiting for Tomorrow, on Bad Stain Records in late 2004. The full length release was a huge success, and their first single, Runaway, helped to land the band on dozens of popular concerts at the time, ranging from Guttermouth and Alkaline Trio, to Groovie Ghoulies and the Vans Warped Tour.

In late 2005, bassist Chase Stain released his first solo album, a limited edition EP titled, January. Stain followed up the release just a few months later with the February EP, which helped to spark rumors throughout the valley that Stain was leaving NoN to pursue a solo career. Rumors didn’t stop there, and NoN soon found themselves overwhelmed with several accusations from the local underground scene, including a story of how drummer Tad Gurthman had slept with the program director for an alternative music radio station in Phoenix in order to get the bands single, Runaway, put into rotation. Other stories suggested that guitarist Moe Money threatened the station with violence, and that bassist Chase Stain had bribed the station. However, the rumor mill did produce at least one rumor that had some truth behind it. Several people in the scene claimed that they had witnessed both Moe Money and Chase Stain assault their former guitarist in the middle of the bands set. NoN responded by informing their fans that the story was true, but explained that the fallout between members happened as the result of their former guitarist stealing money from the band, and added that the assault actually had taken place just after the bands set, and not while the members were still on stage as they had been accused. NoN even included a single with lyrics about the event that was included on their debut album, which helped to spark more talk about the band within the local punk community.

In September of 2005, NoN added a second guitarist to the band in the hopes of helping them have a fuller sound for their live shows. Matt Martini was quickly introduced to fans as the band performed live opening up for pop punk pioneers, The Queers. After NoN introduced Martini, they quickly entered the studio and released the “QuickerDrunkenLouderHarder” EP in the summer of 2006. Album sales were not even close to “Waiting for Tomorrow”, but fans and critics alike gave NoN tons of praise, as did their peers.

Over the next few years, NoN performed along side artists ranging from Yelowcard, Plain White T’s and Flogging Molly, to Guttermouth, Youth Brigade and The Queers. NoN even tapped Joe Queer, frontman of the legendary Ramones-core pop punk band, to produce their next full length album.

In December of 2010 NoN released “Borrachos, Chingasos Y Rucas” on Bad Stain Records. NoN had offers from several indie labels and even major labels, although they chose to continue their contract with Bad Stain, due to the fact that bassist and primary vocalist, Chase Stain, owned the label, giving the band the freedom that they wanted.

Album sales for “Borrachos, Chingasos Y Rucas” were weak, and the album was considered a flop, and was devastating to the band. Reviews for the album were mixed, with several critics hailing that it was NoN’s best work to date, and others stated that the album was NoN’s weakest release to date. Salt was added to the wound when guitarist Matt Martini left the band to focus on his side project, Reason Unknown.

Martini seemed to have the right idea, because NoN gradually faded over the next couple of years and eventually went on hiatus in early 2013. By 2013, Reason Unknown had started to make a name for themselves, and eventually seemed to take NoN’s spot at the head of the local scene’s pop punk table. One could argue that Martini was the member that helped to make NoN one of the most well known and popular pop punk artists in Arizona, although the truth is that NoN enjoyed the height of their success prior to Martini joining the band.

Still, Martini did have a huge impact on the band, and helped to shape them into what was one of the most legendary acts the local underground punk scene has ever known. After NoN announced their hiatus, the band became a fond memory as the years passed, and the scene eventually forgot about a band that helped to shape the local underground punk scene.

In 2019, NoN returned from their hiatus and released a new album, “From Buckeye To Beardsley”. The full length was an ultimate failure, although many critics praised the band, and stated that the album was “amazing” and “one of the strongest releases from a local band in years”.

NoN repressed their most successful album, “Waiting for Tomorrow”, in 2020, in the hopes of reclaiming their former presence in the local scene. The special fifteen year deluxe edition pressing included all of the tracks from the original release, as well as a dozen bonus tracks, including demo tracks, live recordings, and previously unreleased material. The deluxe re-issue of “Waiting for Tomorrow” achieved lackluster sales, and the band became more frustrated.

In April of 2021, Chase Stain, Moe Money, and Tad Gurthman decided to officially throw in the towel, and Numbers On Napkins said farewell to the scene. The members graciously thanked their fans and everyone in the scene that had helped or supported them throughout the years, but they all agreed that the time had come for NoN to become a fond memory. The official announcement was posted on NoN’s website and various social media platforms, and also included that the band would be releasing one final album in August of 2021. NoN’s last release would be a greatest hits album, containing fan favorites, as well as two previously unreleased bonus tracks.

After months of waiting, Bad Stain Records finally dropped NoN’s final release last month. “NON Essentials: The Best of Numbers On Napkins” includes all of the bands best tunes, as well as a previously unreleased special live and acoustic recording of their popular single, “Summer Daze”, and an unreleased cover of the 80’s rock song, “Kiss Me Deadly”, which was originally made famous by Lita Ford.

“NON Essentials” is an album that everyone who has supported the local scene should own. The CD features fan favorites from each of their releases, making it the best album NoN has ever released. If you have never had the chance to listen to Numbers On Napkins, this is really the only CD that you need because it helps to show how incredibly diverse and talented the band was, and the CD produces an energetic vibe that is hard to ignore.

NoN has walked into the sunset, but former guitarist Matt Martini continues to perform with Reason Unknown, and it’s worth checking them out as well.

Bassist and primary vocalist, Chase Stain, continues to own and operate the local and independent label, Bad Stain Records, and has even started a new venture titled Bad Stain Noize Weapons as well. BSNW is a local company that designs and manufactures high quality instruments, including guitars, basses, and pickups. In addition, Stain recently released his sixth solo album titled, “April”. It seems as though Stain is planning on remaining active within the local music scene for years to come.

Guitarist and secondary vocalist Moe Money owns and operates a silkscreening business in the Valley, but hasn’t retired from the scene yet. Drummer and vocalist, Tad Gurthman is now a teacher full time, but is also still involved in the local scene as well. Money and Gurthman have recently started a cover band called Numbers From Downtown, featuring members of the former local indie band, Downtown Dramatics.

With NoN laid to rest, it will be interesting to see how members of the former band will move forward, and hear how their sounds will develop and evolve. Although no matter what the future holds, Phoenix will always hold a special place in its heart for a group that touched so many fans in the valley and inspired a new generation of musicians.