During a conversation with USA Today, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich talked about frontman James Hetfield recently re-entering rehab, forcing the band to cancel its tour dates of Australia and New Zealand.

Asked on how James is doing, the musician replied:

“He’s doing what he needs to; he’s in the process of healing himself. 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.”

USA Today: James has been vocal about his struggles with addiction and sobriety, through the years. Were you surprised when he told you about his decision to return, or how did you react?

“I don’t have anything more to add – we put out a statement a week ago. I think the biggest surprise is just how positive the feedback has been from our fans and friends and peers alike.

“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 group’s original statement reads:

“We are truly sorry to inform our fans and friends that we must postpone our upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand.

“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.

“We fully intend to make our way to your part of the world as soon as health and schedule permit. We’ll let you know as soon as we can. Once again, we are devastated that we have inconvenienced so many of you, especially our most loyal fans who often travel great distances to experience our shows. We appreciate your understanding and support for James and, as always, thank you for being a part of our Metallica family.

“All tickets purchased to the shows in Australia and New Zealand, including Enhanced Experiences and Black Tickets, will be fully refunded.”