The Return of Rhythm School
SacTV.com "Video of the Day" review by
Alex Cosper on August 10, 2013
Rhythm School was an early reggae/ska band in Sacramento in the 1980s. They started out as The RPMs,
founded by singer/songwriter Sean O'Callaghan. He is featured in this SacTV interview, talking about
the origins of the band and the philosophy of the songwriting. The band got back together for a reunion
show on August 9, 2013 at Old Ironsides. The band opened with the song "Background Noise," which is
featured in this video after the interview, which was conducted before the show.
The band is very lyric-intensive, as well as a solid dance groove party mover and shaker. The songs
tap into truth and consciousness about world and crowd unity. Sean made his lyrics available to the
crowd with booklets that contained all the songs performed at the reunion. They also brought back vinyl
copies of their 1980s album Movement, which is available on eBay. Vinyl records have been making a
comeback in recent years, at least with indie fans who shop online or at lost record stores.
"I've always been 100 percent original," asserts Sean. "I've never done the cover thing for money. It was
never to make money. It was always about doing your music and being able to say something." Sean writes songs
that have positive motivational songs that help create the fun carefree vibe among fans in the crowd. One
of their biggest inspirations was Joe Strummer of The Clash, who they met in their early days when the
British band visited Sacramento. Sean and his band were introduced to Strummer by a mutual friend.
As for songwriting philosophy, Sean says, "I've always been concerned with the mechanics of the human
condition. And so the songs are basically what life is - why life works a certain way and why things happen
the way that they do." He likes to write about human situations and what is good or bad about them. He says
reggae and ska are about unity, truth, what is right and oppression. These are the main themes that shape
the spirit of the communal dance music that comes from Jamaica and the U.K. Some of Sean's other early
favorite bands of this sound was The Specials and The English Beat. Part of the reason Rhythm School opened
for so many acts was they always made themselves available to take last minute slots when other bands
Since Rhythm School, Sean has worked as an engineer for other bands, including Filibuster back in the
90s during their days as a rising ska band. Rhythm School was well received at their reunion show, playing
one powerful dance song with conscious lyrics after another. Sean's vocals were distinct like a storyteller,
one of the keys to creating a timeless musical experience. Other local 80s artists who played at the Old Ironsides
show included The Features, Numonix and Thomas Bix. The event packed the house with patrons of the 1980s
Sacramento music scene.
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