Move Aside Rickroll, Confusing Cowboy Erotica “Ram Ranch” is the New Gag Song: A Conversation with Grant McDonald (NSFW)

[We at 102.1 the Edge/Toronto have been receiving unsolicited material from Grand McDonald for years and years. None of us have ever met the guy, but Official Intern Mat Kahansky has. He submitted a version of this story to Noisey–which, of course, is a part of Vice–but they rejected because it was too weird.  Too weird for Noisey? Apparently.  – AC]

If you’ve ever wondered what living in a strange alternate dream dimension might feel like, meet the most surreal figure the East Coast has to offer: Grant MacDonald.

The PEI native is behind the hard rock/slam poetry/cowboy erotica/confusing mess “Ram Ranch” that has become the XXX-rated rickroll replacement in online streaming communities like Twitch.

The iconic 80s drum intro may be lacking, but opening lyrics like “18 naked cowboys in the showers at Ram Ranch!” are enough to catch anybody’s attention. And for the love of god, this is VERY NSFW. You’ve been warned.

McDonald is the personification of Churchill’s riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. When I happened to sit next to MacDonald at a burger joint in downtown Halifax late one fall evening, I had no idea what to expect.

The conversation began innocently enough. Denim-clad and with matching plaid, his innocuous questions about why I had a tape recorder were disarming enough. Journalists can seem strange, right?

When talk shifted to music, things seemed normal. MacDonald is a recording artist, and he made it known: a custom-print phone case with his own album art, a quick introduction to some banking jargon that allowed him to finance the whole shtick – sure, why not?

Grant likes country music.  He recited lines about Tennessee and cowboys and trucks and then pulled out his phone again to display a country-heavy playlist. He scrolled fast; there are a lot of albums here. But it was impossible not to notice that a lot of flesh also skimmed past. Are those all shirtless cowboys? Was that last song called “Big Cock Cowboy”?

I was about to politely excuse myself, but curiosity got the better of me. What the hell was this guy all about?

Hold on. Back up. For starters, MacDonald apparently has a background in banking, but that part of his website is basically empty. He also has some books available on Amazon, but they just appear to be the same title, 4 Billion Bucks, rereleased repeatedly in different formats and with different cover art. There’s also some works on conspiracy theories involving a banking family’s ties to Hitler, websites full of his erotic artistic endeavors, and of course the piece de resistance: “Ram Ranch”.

There are so many threads of intrigue to pull but with over 200,000 collective views, the naked cowboys in the showers were the most obvious place to begin.

JMT: How did this all start?

Grant MacDonald: So.  Gee Whiz. To encapsulate it singly, “Best Friend Jake” was my first country song I sent to Nashville and they basically wouldn’t play it because it was about two guys. Then came “Lonesome Boy in Tennessee,” then “Cadillac Riding Cowboy.”

And “Ram Ranch”?

“Ram Ranch” evolved from frat jocks. The frat jocks on Dalhousie campus are the most risqué of all the boys. Pledge week, you know, the frat boys in pledge week on the campuses, nothing’s more risqué. Then came “Ram Ranch”, because as I just alluded to, those three songs were sent down to Nashville.  It was basically sticking my middle finger up at Nashville. They wouldn’t play my songs because they were about guys. And I decided I was going to have fun with the cowboys.

If the music world may not necessarily be receptive, why go so overtly sexual?

I think my point there being the frat jocks are the risqué guys, but the cowboys are the romantics. The cowboys, like in my lyrics, “push you up against the post in the barn, my lips fall on yours, and I fall deeper and deeper into your heart.” The cowboys are the romantics.

How does “Ram Ranch” specifically tie into romance? It’s not a particularly soft and gentle romantic song you might hear on the radio.

Whether its “sucking cowboy,” or “love ya cowboy,” just all kinds of romanticism comes out. But hey, there’s no question I love having fun with the risqué side of the cowboys. I always go back to that, because I want to have fun with my project. My fans all over the world love my songs, because of that risqué overtone. There’s a guy on Twitch listening to “Jockstrap Cowboys” for the first time, “drink that piss, drink that piss,” and he’s having a glass of milk and he’s just choking on it because he can’t believe the lyrics.

These people having visceral reactions, you think they’re enjoying it?

Oh for SURE, they’re having fun with it, they’re having a hoot! One guy said, “I can’t go to sleep at night unless I listen to one of your songs,” and another said, “I don’t think I could survive if I didn’t hear a new song every Tuesday.” I just have so much fun with the risqué overtone, like I’ve taken it beyond Brokeback Mountain! That’s why I want to do this, to show that, “hey, you don’t have to have a goddamn lady getting up the vagina,” gimme a break. Cowboys and cowboys, guys and guys, can love each other and have fun with each other.

What do you want first-time listeners to get out of “Ram Ranch”?

I hope they have fun, I hope they take it to the bunkhouse, I hope that they pick up one of my 130 CDs and start listening to it the way that they’re meant to be listened to. You know, to enjoy all this eroticism with two guys. You don’t have to be watching blood flowing with 14 guns going off and some psycho thing at a school. This is about cowboys at Ram Ranch: fucking, sucking, and having fun. That’s my key words that I have evolved out of – not bang bang, shoot ‘em up, stabbing, blood flowing – it’s about fucking and sucking.

So like a different kind of bang bang?

No, it ISN’T. This is LOVE. I’m standing up for our quarter, for our sector, to show that there’s class and personification and erotic enjoyment in our sector. So that’s what I’m doing – and I’m so proud of it.

Mathew Kahansky

Once upon a time, Mat studied journalism. That's how he became Alan's one-time intern and current-time contributor, and the rest is ongoing history - get it? Mat also studied biology and music, so he has a strangely specific knowledge set that doesn't really apply anywhere other than useless fun facts. He currently works for a music tech start-up in Halifax, and is a big fan of the em dash.