Ralph Lee "Mac" McCaughan (born July 12, 1967) is an American musician and record label owner, based in North Carolina. His main musical projects have been Superchunk since 1989 and Portastatic since the early 1990s. In 1989 he founded the independent record label Merge Records with Superchunk bandmate Laura Ballance.
McCaughan is a founding member of the rock band Superchunk. Formed in 1989, they are one of the bands that helped define the Chapel Hill music scene of the 1990s. Their energetic, high-velocity style and do-it-yourself ethics is influenced by punk rock. The band released a string of full-length albums and compilations throughout the 90’s. After releasing their eighth studio album in 2001, the band went into a period of reduced activity. In 2010, the band released a new studio album Majesty Shredding and followed it up in 2013 with their tenth studio album, I Hate Music.
He also heads the band Portastatic, which began as a lo-fi side project from Superchunk and has blossomed into his main musical project. Prior to this, he was the head of another lo-fi band named Bricks with Andrew Webster of Tsunami, Josh Phillips and Laura Cantrell. Other early bands he played with include Wwax and Slushpuppies.
In the early 1990s he was also the original drummer in the band Seam, which was formed in 1991 with former Bitch Magnet front man Sooyoung Park. He played on their debut album Headsparks and the Kernel EP.
Along with his Superchunk band mate (and then-girlfriend) Laura Ballance, he founded the successful independent record label Merge Records in 1989 as a way to release music from Superchunk and music created by friends. The label has expanded to include artists from around the world and records reaching the top of the Billboard music charts, including the highly successful band Arcade Fire.
McCaughan was a co-contributor to the book 'Our Noise - The Story of Merge Records' by John Cook, released in 2009.
On October 24, 2007, McCaughan gave expert witness testimony in the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on the topic "The Future of Radio".
McCaughan lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife and children.
- Superchunk (1990)
- No Pocky for Kitty (1991)
- On the Mouth (1993)
- Foolish (1994)
- Here's Where the Strings Come In (1995)
- Indoor Living (1997)
- Come Pick Me Up (1999)
- Here's to Shutting Up (2001)
- Majesty Shredding (2010)
- I Hate Music (2013)
All releases on Merge Records.
- I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle (CD/LP) (1994)
- Slow Note From a Sinking Ship (CD/LP) (1995)
- The Nature of Sap (CD/LP) (1997)
- Summer of the Shark (CD) (2003)
- Bright Ideas (CD) (2005)
- Be Still Please (CD) (2006)
- Non-Believers (CD/LP) (2015)