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Metallica took fans by surprise back in September 2019 when they suddenly postponed their then-upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand due to James Hetfield re-entering rehab. As it turns out, the move was just as surprising for the band, too.

In a new interview with Metal Hammer, Robert Trujillo, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich each expressed being taken aback by the news of Hetfield seeking treatment.

“We really didn’t see it coming,” said Trujillo. “James seemed like he was fine, but then you look back and you try to analyze the situation over time and see where there were red flags. Being on the road can be very challenging, and I would imagine for James, to get up there in front of all those people and have to be ‘on’ meanwhile, your family’s not with you and all these things are going on, it builds up.”

Hammett added, “Whenever something happens to a band member like this, it’s so deeply unsettling. It comes as a shock. You have to do a bit of scrambling just to cover some ground.”

“I’m an only child, so these guys have been in my life longer than anybody else other than my parents,” said Ulrich. “We know what the MO is. As you see your brothers, your friends, your partners go through ups and downs for decades, you know what the process becomes.”

Hetfield has since left rehab, but he has not publically commented about his treatment. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Metallica had some major plans for 2020 that included performing double-headlining sets at five different festivals in the United States: Epicenter, Welcome to Rockville, Sonic Temple, Louder Than Life and Aftershock.

Despite being sidelined from the road, Metallica is still rather active. Their new S&M2 release comes out on August 28 and is available for pre-order at Metallica.com. The band also recently announced a new concert film will be hitting select drive-in across North America on August 29. Complete ticket details for that event can also be found at Metallica.com.

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Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.