Q & A with Chase Stain

Arizona Independent Music Scene Magazine

September 2021

Written By: Uncredited

Chase Stain is best known as the bassist and co-vocalist for the independent pop punk band, Numbers On Napkins, as well as the president of Bad Stain Records. However, Stain has also performed as a solo artist since 2005, and has released several albums over the years. In 2013, Stain took a break from the music industry to focus on family, although ultimately returned in 2018 with a new album with his band, Numbers On Napkins. NoN recently called it quits in April of 2021, and Stain quickly released his fifth EP titled “April” just a few months following the announcement. “April” is Stain’s first solo release since 2010, and the fourth installment in his “Month” series of limited edition EP’s.

Stain has done a lot in the music scene, and has performed with several different bands. He has produced several albums for various independent artists, and has mixed, engineered and mastered several songs in a wide variety of genres. Stain is a former writer and critic for over a dozen magazines, and has even worked as editor and co-editor for a few magazines as well. Stain is the former owner of Laundromat Productions, a booking agency in Phoenix, Arizona that put together shows for hundreds of bands over the years. Stain recently started Bad Stain Noize Weapons, a small company that builds custom made instruments that are high quality and usually limited edition builds.

Stain is a super busy guy, but he took the time from his busy schedule to sit down with me for a quick interview. Stain was easy to identify as he entered the bookstore where we met. From his snakeskin boots, to his bleach blonde mohawk, there was no way that I could miss him. Stain was sporting jeans and a white shirt with black sleeves that featured a rainbow in the shape of a heart. In the center of the heart, the shirt read, “Every time you see a rainbow, god is having gay sex.” I couldn’t help but smile as he introduced himself and removed a pair of gold aviator style sunglasses that looked like something that Elvis would have chosen in his wardrobe.

“Alright, let’s do this,” Stain yelled out loud as he clapped his hands together. “I’ve only got about an hour to spare, so what do you want to know?”

Stain announced that he was on a tight schedule because he needed to get back to running his businesses. On top of everything Stain does for the music scene, he also owns and operates a wholesale distribution company that sells various southwestern and Native American made items ranging from jewelry and hand made pottery, to kachina dolls and replicated artifacts including tomahawks, spears, bows and arrows, and dance rattles. Stain even sells hand carved cigar store wooden indian sculptures. Stain went on to explain that he sells his merchandise to various souvenir and gift shops across the southwest, and that the wholesale business is his primary source of income.

AIMS: “So let me start off by saying that I’m terribly sorry to hear about Numbers On Napkins throwing in the towel. That really sucks man. You guys were awesome. So is that why you decided to release your new solo CD?”

STAIN: “Yeah, it sucks, but we (Numbers On Napkins) had been done for awhile in all honesty. We had a great time and I want to say thanks to everyone who supported us, but it was time to move on. Actually, we just released a kind of best of album called NON Essentials a few days ago, but that’s it for the band. Now that NoN is gone, I plan on focusing on my solo stuff again, so I released my new April EP. It’s not my best work, but I swear the next EP will be better!” (Laughs)

AIMS: “So that will be May, right? When will that be out?”

STAIN: “Yeah. I’m not sure when it will be out. Give me about a year or so I think. I’ve got some other stuff I want to do too. I have a new project that I’m hoping to put together over the next year or two, and I guess we’ll see how that goes. Plus, I’m a busy guy, and I’ve always got to much going on!” (Laughs)

AIMS: “You know, I’m really amazed by how much you have done over the years. So what, the new project is Bad Stain Noize Weapons, right?”

STAIN: “Yes, yes. That is..my new...conquest I guess.” (Laughs)

AIMS: “And that business makes like, really ultra high quality gear from what I understand.”

STAIN: “Yeah. Well, it’s not cheap!” (Laughs) “I basically make custom made guitars and basses....and even pickups now. I started off with a custom made Fender Jagstang bass and a custom Fender Strat. Then I released a Gibson Les Paul with Bad Stain Lipstick Tube humbuckers called Lipstick Stain pickups. That guitar is called a Lipstick Stain Les Paul and is a limited build. I only made a dozen of them, and each one is individually numbered. About a month ago, I released a new bas pickup designed for a P-Bass called White Gold. Those pickups are also going to be used in my new bas guitar that I plan on releasing in a few weeks. The cool thing about this instrument is that it will be the first instrument that I have ever released that is not a limited edition build or one of a kind custom build. I actually plan on releasing several items over the next few years that will be permanent items from Bad Stain Noize Weapons. Although I will still be releasing several limited edition builds as well.”

AIMS: “That’s cool. So those items will always be available. It sounds like you plan on really expanding Bad Stain Noise Weapons.”

STAIN: “I hope so. To be honest, Bad Stain Noize Weapons isn’t a super successful business by any means. I’m just trying to put out very unique high quality instruments for serious musicians. I make small limited edition builds, and I’ve only sold a few of each of them. But I’m going to keep releasing just crazy awesome gear, and also keep releasing great music on Bad Stain Records.”

AIMS: “So that brings me to my next question. Bad Stain Records has been around for.... well, how long has it been? I want to say over twenty years, right?”

STAIN: “Twenty six years.”

AIMS: “Wow! That’s impressive.” I started clapping my hands and nodded at Stain with a smile.

STAIN: (Laughs) “Thanks man. Yeah, it’s been around for awhile.”

AIMS: “So you started the label to really help your old band, Dirty Laundry, and it just expanded from there into the compilations and shit, right?”

STAIN: “Ummm. Well, yeah. I was trying to promote Dirty Laundry, and no label would give us a shot, so I made my own label. Then I signed my friends bands. I was lucky because I signed D-I-X, Corrupt Citizen, and Subject Mad, because they were all my friends, and they were all just amazing bands. And it grew from there. And the label has hit some rough spots over the years, but overall the label has had a great journey.”

AIMS: “Bad Stain started off as a local record label that only signed local artists from Arizona, right?”

STAIN: “Yeah...and..”

AIMS: “But then over time the label started signing bands from all over. Like you started off signing Yellow Sloth Chicken Broth from California and Swallow This from Vegas.”

STAIN: “Yeah, and I went on and signed United Magnetics, The Imports and All Mouth No Trousers from New York, and then went on to sign Mr. Plow from Canada and Doping from the Ukraine. So I just was signing tons of artists from all over.”

AIMS: “But what I find most interesting is the fact that Bad Stain is probably the only label that I know of that signs bands that are anti-internet. There are, well, actually there are several punk rock bands that are very against the internet and social media. They want to be totally independent of anything online, and Bad Stain signs those bands, which is very interesting to me. It has got to be exceptionally difficult to promote a band without using the internet in any way.” STAIN: “Oh hell yeah! But that’s how they feel, and I get it. Numbers On Napkins refused to release Borrachos, Chingasos Y Rucas in digital format until just recently. For over a decade, the only way to listen to that album was to buy the CD. And all of my solo music has been exclusive to physical copies. Well, until recently. I just released my full length album, The First Quarter, available on streaming and digital platforms. I kept all of that music of of the internet because even I have a feeling that music should remain something special. I miss the way that we use to enjoy music, and things have changed. So I release albums from bands who don’t want to play by the general rules.”

AIMS: “But would you say that it makes things more difficult? Because everything is kind of driven by the Internet nowdays, so it’s got to be significantly harder for those bands to become know without any online presence.”

STAIN: “Oh yeah, it’s much more difficult, but that’s how they want to do it. I’m actually surprised at how well some of the bands do to be honest. Like, Daisy Moonshine and The City Boys sells plenty of records, and they actually have a pretty good following. And Johnny Laundromat and The Drycleaners also does great. They were originally from Phoenix, but just moved to Cali last year.”

AIMS: “Dude, and they fucking kill it! And they actually have a decent draw. I have seen them twice and yeah, they are awesome.”

STAIN: “Yeah. I’m surprised cause with no online presence it’s like.... how the hell does anyone know about them!” (Laughs)

AIMS: “Yes, exactly. So you mentioned that Johnny Laundromat and The Drycleaners are originally from Phoenix, and I know Johnny was your former bandmate in Dirty Laundry. So like, what’s going on with Bad Stain and the local Arizona scene? Are you planning on signing more local bands from Arizona, or are you looking around the whole world? Ohhh, and congrats on Dirty Laundry releasing the box set, that blew my mind by the way.”

STAIN: “Thanks man. Ummm, okay...so which do I answer first?” (Laughs)

AIMS: (Laughs) “Oh sorry man. I kind of got of track there. No, I was surprised that you finally released Dirty Laundry because it’s something that you have talked about doing for years and I just wasn’t sure if it would ever happen. And then you went and made it available on streaming and for downloading at like Spotify and YouTube and... what, Pandora, I-Tunes, like... shit, everywhere!”

STAIN: “Yes. I know. It took forever. I had emails coming from as far back as 2002 from Dirty Laundry fans begging for us to release all of our unreleased tracks and repress all of our albums, because everything was out of print for awhile.”

AIMS: “Yeah, no shit! Out of print for decades, right?”

STAIN: “Well almost. Well... actually wait.. yes. Actually... damn, some of the albums had been out of print for decades I guess.”

AIMS: “And then nothing was available to download or even stream.”

STAIN: “Yup.” (Laughs) “We kept everything underground and all of our albums were limited edition releases so we didn’t want to repress them. But we eventually decided that it was time.”

AIMS: “And what I think is really cool is the fact that you released the entire discography. So the new box set contains everything Dirty Laundry.”

STAIN: “Yeah. The new box set contains the entire catalog of music from Dirty Laundry. And the box set features more than just that, cause we also included all of the lyrics, a biography, a like....members list with like a time line of all of the various band members throughout the years.”

AIMS: “Which was.. I mean, Dirty Laundry had a lot of lineup changes.”

STAIN: “Yeah. And it has an actual discography booklet with info on each of the releases, and we included posters and stickers and just a bunch of cool shit.”

AIMS: “And it’s three CD’s worth of music. Not a bad deal for twenty bucks.”

STAIN: “And we also made the box set a limited edition release. We pressed 2,000 copies. Like the first pressing has 100 copies, second has 200, third is 300, fourth is 400, and fifth is 1,000. And the first four pressings are numbered. Like each box set is hand numbered. So it says like, third pressing, number 56 of 300 on the back, or whatever. So that’s cool. I just always really like limited edition releases, so I had to make the Harmonies from the Hamper box set limited edition.”

AIMS: “Which is cool. You’re right, I totally love that. How is it selling anyway?”

STAIN: “Uhhh.. so-so. Not amazing, but we have sold out of the first two pressings, and are about halfway through the third pressing I think. So what.. that’s 100, 200, which is 300.. so I guess Harmonies from the Hamper has sold around 400 to 450 copies since it came out in January of, well this year, 2021.”

AIMS: “Oh. That’s not bad. I had actually expected more, but I guess that’s still decent.

STAIN: ”Yeah..so-so.” (Laughter)

AIMS: “So my next question was about what bands or Bad Stain artists you are looking for. I mean, are you focusing more on local bands, or are you just looking for good bands?”

STAIN: “Well I really feel like Arizona produces some of the greatest bands I’ve ever heard. We have had just amazing bands like Jimmy Eat world, Job for a Cowboy, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Bless the Fall, ummm.. ohh, Lydia. Lydia’s first album This December is just crazy good. Oh, The Format. Shit, Interventions was what I think at least, like one of the best albums ever released from a local band. The Generiks. My first concert was The Generiks and Mandingo and The Generiks were local legends. Mandingo was awesome too, but when Mike and Shane started Stereotyperider, that was nuts good.” (Laughs) “Whatever nuts good is.” (Laughs) “No, Stereotyperider was probably one of the states most under rated bands. They had such an original and unique sound that was just so good. And it’s kind of fucked up because Upsahl is also kick ass and deserves more credit I think.”

AIMS: “Oh, I didn’t know Upsahl was from Arizona. Yeah, she rocks man.”

STAIN: “Yeah, her dad, Mike Upsahl was the singer and guitarist for Stereotyperider. She’s really amazing, but she should be huge in her genre. And Stereotyperider should have been huge in their genre. Like father like daughter!” (Laughs) “But no, it’s just Arizona has too many bands to even list. Mega Ran! Fuck man, that guy is one of the best rappers I’ve ever seen. Fucking amazing! Ohhh, Dollskin. Man, I’ve been a Dollskin fan forever, and I wanted to sign them, but Dave Ellefson got to them first.”

AIMS: “Dave Ellefson. Wait. Who’s that again? Name is familiar..”

STAIN: He’s the other Dave from Megadeth. I mean, he started his label just because he was a judge in a battle of the bands when Dollskin was first starting. He liked them so much he started a label and signed them. I think Dollskin is great. I mean, Alex and Nicole just left the band, which sucks, but I think Sydney and Megan still have something good. Their old guitarist, Alex Snowden, is just a shredder. She’s young, sexy, and talented. Just amazing to watch live. And Nicole played bass for the band, and she left too, which sucks. Because Nicole was stunningly beautiful and had such a good stage presence. Such charisma about her, and she was a great performer. So now Dollskin is Sydney, who is also attractive with a great personality. They have such an awesome stage presence about them, and she....I mean, they...“ (Laughs) “They...Shit.... They really know how to be a performer. Sydney is just quick witted, energetic, and oozes with Charisma. Sorry.”

AIMS: “Huh?“

STAIN: “Sydney is non-binary so I screwed up.” (Laughs) “Man, that’s what I hate about interviews.” (Laughs) “And I’m always screwing up with pronouns. God. Make sure you edit this out!” (Laughs) “No, keep it in. I don’t care if people think I’m a moron.”

AIMS: “Ohhh. Okay. Yeah man, no worries.” (Laughs)

STAIN: “Okay.” (Laughs) “To go on... ummm... and then Megan, who is a decent drummer, but I feel like Megan is like the strong glue in the band. Megan always seems upbeat and happy, and I think that she is an important fixture in the band. I mean, I guess I’m bummed to see them part, but I’m optimistic about Dollskin. Ohhh, there is a new band in Phoenix called Crack Rabbit that I think has tons of potential. The singer and guitarist is this just drop dead gorgeous with such passion and drive. She is so important to the band, because I can just tell that she has that drive that you need to have to make it. The rest of the band is also awesome though, and just because I see her as the star, she has a fierce group backing her. I just feel like they need to hire a producer to help add that little something to their music. They have great songs, but I can hear these subtle guitar fills that should be added, and certain vocal harmonies, just that shit.”

AIMS: “Shit, haven’t you produced a few bands?”

STAIN: “Yeah, I’ve produced Johnny Laundromat and The Drycleaners as a mater of fact.” (Laughs) “And a few others.”

AIMS: “So why don’t you produce their music?”

STAIN: “Well I don’t know if they are even interested. I’m paying close attention and I’m thinking of approaching them at some point. Nowadays a lot of bands want to remain D.I.Y. until they get signed to a major, and a lot want to be protected by having a small label like Bad Stain before getting signed, and it’s really like 50/50. So I have no clue if they are even interested, but I’ll eventually find out. And if they aren’t interested, well fuck them.” (Laughs) “No, just kidding. I’m always down to help bands even if they don’t want to sign. I’ve helped dozens of bands that never signed with Bad Stain, but they just needed a bit of help. You know, I’ve given them contacts they need of A and R reps, or record and CD manufacturers, or whatever. Just, back to what I was saying, the Arizona local music scene is just mind blowingly incredible.”

AIMS: “I know you’ve got to get going, but I just want to wrap this up and ask you one last question. You started making music in 1993, when you were just a teenager. You’re now 43 years old and have seen the music scene change a lot. How do you feel about the evolving scene and are you getting wise in your age?”

STAIN: “So what the fuck, am I old now!” (Laughs) “Yeah, I’ve seen a lot change over the years. The creation of social media and the widespread use of the internet is obviously the big change. To be honest, social media has made a vast amount of mediocre and untalented musicians famous, and that’s a pretty sad thing. On the other hand, several amazing bands have risen up from the shadows thanks to social media. It just seems like there are a lot of crappy artists now, and that was just something that wasn’t possible in the past. Although I may just be out of touch with music and unable to tell what the hell is good anymore, I don’t know. I have my kid around to help tell me if something is fire though when I’m on the fence. One thing that I can tell you is that while I’ve learned a lot, the music industry is always changing and I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to anticipate what the future holds. Maybe my heir will be able to do a better job when they take over.”

AIMS: “So are you going to be handing over the keys to the kingdom anytime soon?”

STAIN: “I’ve still got a few years left in me, but I think that in the future everyone will see Nova gradually take a bigger role at the label until they eventually drive me away.” (Laughs)