Skip to main content

Metallica on James Hetfield’s return to rehab: “We really didn’t see it coming”

Metallica (Image credit: Herring & Herring)

Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo have spoken candidly to Metal Hammer magazine about what it was like seeing their friend and bandmate James Hetfield return to rehab last year.

The vocalist and guitarist re-entered a treatment programme in September 2019 - a move which led to the postponement of Metallica’s tour of Australia and New Zealand.

And in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer magazine, which is on sale from today, Hetfield’s bandmates have reflected on the impact Hetfield's struggles had on them.

Trujillo says: “We really didn’t see it coming. James seemed like he was fine, but then you look back and you try to analyse 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 says it was an emotional time for the whole band, and adds: “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.”

Ulrich adds: “I’m an only child, so these guys have been in my life longer than anybody else other than my parents. 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.”

The full, world exclusive interview with Metallica can be found in the new issue of Metal Hammer magazine, which is on sale now. The band are the cover stars and also give us the lowdown on the imminent release of S&M2 and their future plans

Issue 339 also features Trivium, BackxwashA.A. WilliamsAvatarMystifierIn Flames, Code Orange and much more.

(Image credit: Future)

Metallica: S&M2
Metallica's two landmark shows with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from September 2019 are documented on this new live release. The concerts were lined up to mark 20 years since the original S&M album.View Deal

Scott Munro

News editor for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. He’s been at the news desk since 2014 and when not writing, he can be found watching baseball and visiting whisky distilleries.