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When Hellyeah hits the stage, guitarist Tom Maxwell said he hopes to slay everyone in the crowd.

The hard rock term doesn't involve blood. It involves blowing listeners' minds. But the band comes in peace.

During a recent phone interview, Maxwell said the band has made new friends while on Avenged Sevenfold's "Shepherd of Fire Tour." The tour will take over Hershey's Giant Center tonight.

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"Every show has been great," said Maxwell, a Baltimore native. "The crowds are massive. It's exposing us to new fans."

Hellyeah is building toward its album release. "Blood for Blood" is slated to drop June 10.

"We are really proud of the new record," Maxwell said. "We went through a lot to get to the end of it."

The band recently parted ways with some members, Maxwell said. He added that it was a necessary step in order to produce and finish "Blood for Blood." The album features a handful of new tracks as well as a few fan favorites.

Maxwell said the band self-produced its other albums, but for this effort it hired producer Kevin Churko. His new perspective was enlightening, Maxwell said.

Hellyeah formed about eight years ago. The group pools talent from other hard rock groups. Maxwell is from Nothingface. Vocalist Chad Gray is from Mudvayne, drummer Vinnie Paul is from Pantera and bassist Kyle Sanders is from Bloodsimple. Those core members remain.

Maxwell met Gray in 2000 while their bands toured together. They toyed with the idea of writing some music, Maxwell said. During a Mudvayne hiatus, Gray got some time off, and Hellyeah was born.

"The band has taken over our lives," Maxwell added with a laugh.

The group's live shows are high energy. Maxwell said members opt for heavy drums, maxed-out amps and crowd interaction instead of production tricks.

Hellyeah will finish its run with Avenged Sevenfold in June. Then, it will get some time off for a few headlining dates at clubs. In July, the group heads to festivals in the U.S. and Europe.

Maxwell said he's looking forward to the festival dates, since they give him a chance to see crew members and friends from other bands.

"It's a family reunion of sorts," he added.

But touring can also be monotonous. So, between shows, Maxwell said he tunes into Netflix or explores historic landmarks around tour stops. Sometimes, he ends up in cemeteries — to check out famous graves.

And he said he always packs light on the road, since there's laundry service and freebies.

"Along the way, you accumulate all different stuff," he added.

Contact Erin McCracken at 717-771-2051.


Avenged Sevenfold brought its "Shepherd of Fire Tour" to Hershey's Giant Center May 8. Special guest Hellyeah was also part of the lineup.