Lars Ulrich Says Fan Support During James Hetfield’s Rehab Stint Is ‘An Incredible Thing’

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Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich couldn't say enough about the support the group has gotten from fans in the wake of the recent announcement that the veteran hard rockers would be postponing a planned Australia/New Zealand tour while singer/guitarist James Hetfield is in rehab.

"He's doing what he needs to; he's in the process of healing himself," Ulrich told USA Today. "I feel bad for everybody down in Australia and New Zealand, but we're excited to get back to full force and come back stronger and healthier than ever. Along the way, there's obviously an occasional bump in the road. But it's been an incredible ride, and we're looking forward to getting back down there, hopefully next year."

Ulrich said he didn't have anything else to add about Hetfield's return to an addiction recovery program beyond the statement the band issued at the time of the postponement. "As most of you probably know, our brother James has been struggling with addiction on and off for many years. He has now, unfortunately, had to re-enter a treatment program to work on his recovery again," the group wrote in a statement. 

The drummer said the biggest surprise is the outpouring of love they've gotten from their faithful flock. "I think the biggest surprise is just how positive the feedback has been from our fans and friends and peers alike," he said. "It's very heartwarming, and it's just blown our minds how much love and appreciation and support we've gotten in the last week since we had to postpone this. It's an incredible thing." 

The postponement of the tour also threw Slipknot's plans into disarray, as they were slated to support Metallica on the outing. The masked group is still working on plans to figure out how to make it up to fans. Though Metallica has not said when Hetfield will exit rehab and be ready to rock again, the group has already announced that they will headline all five of indie producer Danny Wimmer Presents' hard rock festivals in 2020.