Now living in Los Angeles, drummer, composer, and bandleader Dylan Ryan was born in Chicago, and began playing drums while in junior high. He studied with some of the city's most prominent jazz figures and, while attending DePaul University, began playing in a jazz group that ultimately became Herculaneum, an important contributor to Chicago's creative music scene. Ryan also linked up with a number of the city's indie and experimental rock outfits, including Orso and Icy Demons, as well as Bablicon, a trio whose members included David McDonnell (aka the Diminisher), a musician who would become one of Ryan's key Chicago collaborators. With multi-instrumentalist McDonnell, Ryan formed Michael Columbia, an experimental duo that released an eponymous debut in 2002, These Are Colored Bars in 2004, and the Stay Hard EP in 2006.
Meanwhile, both Ryan and McDonnell were also devoting their energies to Herculaneum, whose first (also eponymously titled) album arrived in 2003 and featured a quintet lineup with trombonist Nick Broste, trumpeter Patrick Newberry, bassist Greg Danek, McDonnell on alto saxophone (later adding clarinet), and Ryan on both drums and xylophone. Released in 2006, sophomore Herculaneum album Orange Blossom featured the same lineup, while 2008's Herculaneum III expanded the lineup to a septet with the addition of guitarist John Beard and flutist Nate Lepine. Olives & Orchids was released in 2010 and UCHU in 2012; Ryan had been Herculaneum's principal composer on previous albums but on these latter two releases shared composing credits with McDonnell, Lepine, and Newberry.
After moving to Los Angeles, Ryan continued performing with Herculaneum and Icy Demons as well as a variety of other groups, and toured with indie rockers Cursive. He also began leading the L.A.-based guitar-bass-drums trio Sand with guitarist Timothy Young (Wayne Horvitz's Zony Mash) and bassist Devin Hoff (Nels Cline Singers). Sky Bleached, the debut album by Dylan Ryan's Sand, was released in January 2013 by the Cuneiform label. Circa, the trio's sophomore Cuneiform album, arrived in September 2014. ~ Dave Lynch, Rovi