Rob Warhurst

Makin Waves with Chad Sabo: ‘A Product of My Environment’

A musical fixture of the Asbury Park music scene for 15 years, multi-instrumentalist Chad Sabo has been blessed with a variety of great musical projects, including The Cold Seas, an indie alt trio with guitarist Erik Rudic and drummer Nash Breen. Taking a break from The Cold Seas allowed Chad to create an excellent solo debut album, Joyride, which he released in February. But before he could tour behind the 10-song collection, he got a gig as the bassist in Armor for Sleep with whom he will have been on the road all spring and summer. The opportunity serves as a Cold Seas reunion because both Erik and Nash are in Armor for Sleep, too!

Chad Sabo will get to take Joyride on the road in the fall, and will play a solo show on June 15 at Motion City Media at Shoppes at The Arcade on Cookman Avenue as part of the Asbury Underground portion of the North 2 Shore Festival. He’ll be backed by his live band, which features Eric on guitar, Santo Rizzolo (Joe P) on drums, James Waltsak (Jwalttz) on bass, and Andrew Robinson (Brother Andrew) on synthesizers and backing vocals.

He also keeps busy with other bands, such as Baquenne with Eric and singer-songwriter Liam Moroney, DRKHRT with Paul Ritchie (Parlor Mob/gods), Ray Beck (Mohican/slowdust), and Gary Zampini (Gringo Motel/gods), and as the bassist in Jwalttz.

The Makin Waves Artist of the Month for May, Chad chatted with me about all the music he has going on, as well as his close connection with his longtime musical home of Asbury Park.

You recently were on tour. Were you touring as part of a band or as a solo act on the bill?

Yes, I was recently filling in on bass for Armor for Sleep for Bayside’s headlining tour with Finch and Winona Fighter. It was a national tour that started on April 3 in Pittsburgh and wrapped up in Boston on May 5. It was unrelated to my solo project. The opportunity came about because Nash Breen, the drummer of my band The Cold Seas, is also the drummer of Armor for Sleep. Erik Rudic – also of The Cold Seas – was filling in on guitar for the tour, so it was a little bit of a Cold Seas reunion.

What other live dates do you have coming up, and how do you think they’ll impact the success of Joyride?

I haven’t been able to commit to any shows for my solo project because I’ll be back on the road this summer with Armor for Sleep. I do have a stripped-down solo set on June 15 at Motion City Media at Shoppes at The Arcade on Cookman Ave. for Asbury Underground during the North 2 Shore Festival. Otherwise, I’ll be looking to fall/winter to pick things back up.

What inspired Joyride most and why?

Joyride was something I patiently assembled over a couple of years. I moved into a tiny apartment in Belmar in 2021, which was a big change from where I was living in Asbury Park. In Asbury, I had a basement and could be loud and make loud records with sub-bass and live drums. In my new apartment, I had to turn everything down and start working in headphones a lot more. I think the music I started writing really reflected that and became a product of my environment.

Along with the change of environment, I also wanted to take a step away from the busy and somewhat tedious productions I had been doing for years with The Cold Seas, so I streamlined everything. I used the same signal chains, instruments, and template for each session and tried not to stray too far away from the boundaries I had set for myself. Having a limit to tracks and instruments really helped keep me focused on finishing the songs and also gave a cohesiveness to the album even though the songs were written or recorded at much different times.

After so many years playing in bands, particularly alternative rock with The Cold Seas, why did you want to release Joyride as a solo album?

I think all of us in The Cold Seas needed to cleanse the palate after almost a decade of playing together. Doing a solo album wasn’t really a goal of mine at first. I just started writing new music for fun, and the way in which I was writing and recording everything didn’t really necessitate including anyone else.

Are you still in a band or are you a solo act now?

I play with several bands right now in different capacities, but as far as the music that I write, it’s limited to this solo project. I have some super talented friends, musicians and writers who join me for the live show.

Did any old band mates contribute to Joyride?

Joyride was strictly a solo effort by me, but one evening, my friend Gianni Scalise (Parlor Mob) came over to jam with me. I pulled up a song I was working on at the time, “Still Mine,” and we messed around with the production a little bit. I ended up keeping an idea he had for the post-chorus. He’s the only outside help I had for the album.

Who is in your live band?

My live band is Santo Rizzolo (Joe P) on drums, James Waltsak (Jwalttz) on bass, Erik Rudic (The Cold Seas/Parlor Mob/Wolfspeak) on guitar, and Andrew Robinson (Brother Andrew) on synth/(vocal) harmonies.

How does it feel to record and perform as a solo act compared to being a member of a band and why?

When working with a band, you have input from multiple sources that all might have great ideas, and the end result is something that one person alone couldn’t have imagined. If you’re stuck on a certain part, maybe someone else will have an idea that can move it along. Maybe someone will say or do something that will set off the song or production in an entirely new direction that no one intended on going in. The tough part sometimes is being decisive and having a clear vision with all the ideas in play. 

As far as the live performance, nothing feels better than playing with a well-rehearsed group, like The Cold Seas, who practiced weekly. There’s a level of tightness that’s hard to achieve without rehearsing weekly, sometimes daily.

On the other hand, I enjoy the solitude of working alone in my room and being free to take however long I need to figure out a part or a guitar tone or synth sound with zero pressure or expectations. I can take hours or days or weeks and it doesn’t really matter. The end goal for working by myself is to just get to the finish line eventually and feel like I did the song justice. There’s no one to make me question my decisions, but if I get stuck on something, I have no one to pull me out. Fortunately, I’ve been able to play live with great musicians for my solo project. We usually don’t have much time to rehearse together, but the performances have felt effortless and fun.

Where did you record Joyride and with whom?

I recorded and mixed Joyride in my bedroom. I had it mastered by Alex Santilli at Spice House Sound in Philadelphia. The only thing I didn’t record were the drums, which were samples/loops. I intended on re-tracking the drum parts in a studio, but decided against it because it felt great the way it was and I didn’t want to disturb what I had.

Have you – or will you – be releasing any videos from the album?

I don’t have any plans for music videos. Just Instagram reels and maybe some live performances videos for the time being. It’s still a possibility in the future, though.

The release of Joyride coincided with the 50th anniversary of The Stone Pony, in which you performed. What did that gig mean to you and why?

It was really, really special being a part of that celebration. Asbury Park has meant so much to my music career. Even though I didn’t grow up here, it’s where I got my first real opportunities as a musician and songwriter. My introduction to Asbury Park was rehearsing with a band at the Hot Dog House in 2009, down the hall from The Parlor Mob, who I didn’t know at the time. To be here 15 years later as direct support for my friends in The Parlor Mob, playing to a sold-out crowd at The Stone Pony, and having just released my first solo album was something I’ll forever be grateful for.

Photo by Rob Warhurst

When, how and why did you gravitate to the Asbury Park music scene?

I was introduced to Asbury Park via a band that I was playing with when I was in my early twenties. We started rehearsing and gigging in town and it became my musical home by default. I didn’t move here officially until 2014 when The Cold Seas formed. It was the most logical place for us to make our home because we already had some roots in town and a couple of the members were already living in the area.

What do you like most and least about Asbury Park and why?

I’ve met and continue to meet some really wonderful and talented people in this town. I was also fortunate enough to experience it’s resurgence over the last 10 to 15 years. I miss the small-town energy that existed during those years, but it’s still a special place. I don’t think many of the people I’ve met here over the years would still be here if that wasn’t the case.

What are the other members of The Cold Seas doing now?

Armor for Sleep has been working on new music and touring more often, so Nash is busy with that.

Erik is constantly working on new music with various bands. He has a metal band called Wolfspeak, and we’re both in a band with our friend, singer-songwriter Liam Moroney, called Baquenne (pronounced ‘back when’).

What other creative projects are you working on and when and how will they come to fruition?

I’ve mostly got my hands tied with my solo project at the moment. I do some production, recording, and live bass with Baquenne. I play guitar in DRKHRT, which is Paul Ritchie (Parlor Mob/gods), Ray Beck (Mohican/slowdust), and Gary Zampini (Gringo Motel/gods). And I play bass live for Jwalttz.

Baquenne and DRKHRT are both working on new music that will most likely be coming out sometime later this year.

Are you able to make a living with music or do you do you something else, and are you as passionate about it as you are music?

I’m fully dedicated to music. I have income from songwriting and live performances. Any other jobs that I’ve worked have been flexible enough to allow me to pursue music.


Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at