Interview: Matt V. Peppe (Royal Hell)

Last week the four members of Royal Hell presented to us their five favourite bands of all time. Today, vocalist Matt V. Peppe tells us a bit more about his favourite music, his band, their future plans and some other topics. Enjoy reading!

Hi, Matt, thanks a lot for your time. How are you doing?

Hi André, I’m doing well. Thank you so much.

It’s a pleasure for us! What was the last record you listened to before answering my questions?

The last album I listened to was Crimson Glory’s 1986 debut. These guys are great. I’ve seen the name from time to time but never really checked them out until recently and I’m glad I did. I’ve been going back in time and exploring some great bands that I initially missed the boat on (Liege Lord, Manilla Road, Heavy Load, etc.).

Are you a fervent vinyl collector?

At times I could be considered a fervent vinyl collector but it gets expensive so I try to limit what I buy these days. I did complete vinyl collections of Priest and Sabbath a few years ago that I’m happy to have.

Probably, there are still many readers who don’t know your band yet. Can you tell us something about the history of Royal Hell? And could you point out some highlights so far?

I was in a band with Rob Helme, our drummer, and his brother David Kusma Jr. from 2012 to 2014 called Deva Loka, with a guitarist named Anthony Turco. After that band ended a few years later Rob and Davey started playing with a guitarist named Eugene Pavlico. In 2016 they asked me to come down and check it out and I knew right then and there that we were gonna write some cool songs together. About a year after forming we opened up for Dokken and Warrant at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. It was a watershed moment for me as Dokken was one of my favorite bands growing up thanks to A Nightmare on Elm Street. A few other highlights were playing shows with DRI, Anti-Flag, and Cloven Hoof. We had a real cool show lined up with Haunt but Matt Pike (Sleep) had a health emergency and Haunt had to fill in an extra night and couldn’t break away for our one-off show. Trevor is a great guy and I hope the opportunity arises where we could share a stage some night.

Our heart and soul is in traditional metal and thrash but we enjoy playing heavy blues rock at times and people even hear punk and grunge in our sound.

Matt V. Peppe about Royal Hell.

How would you describe your musical style? In my opinion, your material is interesting for metal and rock fans as well.

I’m sometimes at a loss for words when trying to describe our music as it pulls from many different genres and time periods but I guess if you boil it down I’d like to think of it as that moment in time when 70s hard rock touched fingers with 80s heavy metal. We are all Sabbath and classic rock fans thanks to our parents and we are all Metallica and Maiden enthusiasts growing up in the 80s and 90s. We’re also fans of Tool as is apparent on our song »Future«. Some folks get mad when you aren’t devout to one genre and I totally understand that but we try to stay open-minded and loose when we write. If it sounds good to us and we get high on playing it then we keep it in the pile. Our heart and soul is in traditional metal and thrash but we enjoy playing heavy blues rock at times and people even hear punk and grunge in our sound.

Who wrote the songs for Higher Court? And who is responsible for the lyrics?

The guys write all the music and I come in with the lyrics. We write and arrange the songs together as a band. We try to make sure we are all adding something to every song so it’s not just a one-person show.

Do you have a favourite track on your EP? 

My favorite track on the album is the title song »Higher Court«. That was the first song we wrote that had the sound that prevails on the album. »Higher Court«, »All Night«, »Screwdriver«, and »Midnight Rifle« are all closer related. »Future« and »Van« are kind of in their own worlds.

Are you currently working on new songs? If so: What may we expect stylistically? Will there be any changes?

We are absolutely writing the second album. We have about half the album written so far and continue to prioritize this. We hope to release the second album in late 2021. Some of the best songs we’ve ever written as a band will be on the second release.

At which festival would you like to perform in the future?

We would be honored to play any of the major festivals in Europe but off the top of my head Copenhell, Hellfest, Wacken, Up the Hammers to name a few that would be absolutely mind-blowing for us.

On our blog, we mainly focus on metal with epic elements. What do you think of this genre? Are there any artists who you appreciate?

I love the epic metal genre as I’m a huge fan of Manowar, Cloven Hoof, Visigoth, and Eternal Champion. We have a song called »Blood Shield« on the next record that I believe exists in the epic metal world and we can’t wait to get it out there to the world.

I love the epic metal genre as I’m a huge fan of Manowar, Cloven Hoof, Visigoth, and Eternal Champion.

Good taste!

Sounds promising! I must confess that I really don’t like ratings regarding music. We’re not a school where we focus on grades. What’s your opinion on this issue?

I agree completely. While number ratings are useful at times, it’s only one person’s opinion.

Do you generally often read reviews about your music?

I love reading reviews about our album because I’m always dying to know what people think about it. I love all the different bands we get compared to. My favorite comparisons are the Diamond Head, Motörhead, and Metallica ones but somebody said we sound like a metal version of Foo Fighters and I really thought that was interesting and funny. Lol. Anytime someone compares us to any national or international band is an absolute honor.

Last question: What’s your opinion on social media platforms? I suppose that they are pretty useful for an underground band in order to get attention.

Social media for personal use seems like it hit a wall. Social media for bands is absolutely paramount. I met so many great people because of Facebook and we gained a bunch of great opportunities because of it. It’s definitely a double-edged sword and is all up to how the bearer wields that sword. I believe there is a great metal brotherhood on Facebook and I’d like to think Royal Hell and myself are a small part of it.

For sure! Many thanks, Matt. Stay safe! I’m really looking forward to your first LP next year!

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