METALLICA has postponed its previously announced tour of Australia and New Zealand so that frontman James Hetfield can re-enter a treatment program to work on his recovery from alcohol addiction.
The band announced the postponement in an emotional note earlier tonight (Friday, September 27). They wrote: "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 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."
In a 2003 interview with Kerrang! magazine, Hetfield spoke about his battle with alcohol addiction and the much-publicized trip to rehab in 2001 that had seemingly enabled the singer to emerge a much healthier and more positive-thinking person that he was during much of the group's 35-plus-year career.
"Going away to rehab taught me about priorities," he said. "I've been in METALLICA since I was 19 years old, which can be a very unusual environment, and it's very easy to find yourself not knowing how to live outside of that environment, which is what happened to me. I didn't know anything about life. I didn't know that I could come home and live a family life. I didn't know that I could live my life in a different way to how it was in the band since I was 19, which was very excessive and very intense. And if you have addictive behavior, then you don't always make the best choices for yourself. And I definitely didn't make the best choices for myself.
"But rehab is like college for your head," he continued. "I really learned some things about myself in there. I was able to reframe my life and not look at everything with a negative connotation. That's how I was raised. It was like a survival technique for me. And getting into METALLICA meant that initially I had to fight to survive, for food, for the towel, for the shower, for everything. And then fighting to be the best band you can be, and putting other bands down. Finding fault with everything was how METALLICA was fueled. And not only did I play a part in that, I was buried in that."
"[In rehab] I learned that every human being is born perfect. I learned that the flaws in ourselves comes from the things around us, from our backgrounds and influences. But when we're born, we all have the same-sized soul. There are certain things that are genetic, but that doesn't mean that I have to act in a certain way, and I didn't know that. My lifestyle has been very intense, and I didn't know how to remove myself from that. Rehab taught me how to do that. It basically taught me how to live."
"I was afraid of so many things. I'd look at other people's friendships and think, 'Man, why can't I have friendships like that?' But I didn't know how to. So I used to try and buy friendships."
Asked whether it was difficult to say to himself, "Look, things have gone too far for me, I need to reach out for help," James said: "Yes, it definitely was difficult. That was one of the most difficult things of all. I had no humility and I felt that I couldn't show any weakness. For me, I was James Hetfield of METALLICA rather than just James Hetfield. And I was trying to live that lifestyle at home, I was trying to wear that mask all the time. And it's amazing how long you can wear a mask for. We're performers who play music — I mean, this is us. This isn't an act. But now I've learned how to be more congruent with where I am. Admitting that sometimes being on tour really sucks, and that I would rather go home. Or that I'm not in a good mood right now, and not worrying if people turn around and say, 'Hey, you're an asshole.' That can't hurt me now, whereas I used to be so concerned that people liked me.
"There's a lot of machoism in this world, but I suppose the most manly thing you can do is face up to your weaknesses and expose them. And you're showing strength by exposing your weaknesses to people. And that opens up a dialogue, it opens up friendships, which is definitely what it has done for me."
During a 2017 interview with "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, Hetfield spoke in more detail about checking into rehab 17 years ago and how he almost lost his family in the process.
"Fear was a big motivator in that for me," Hetfield said. "Losing my family, that was the thing that scared me so much. That was the bottom I hit, that my family is going to go away because of my behaviors that I brought home from the road. I got kicked out of my house by my wife; I was living on my own somewhere. I did not want that. Maybe as part of my upbringing, my family kind of disintegrated when I was a kid. Father left, mother passed away, had to live with my brother, and then kind of just, where did my stuff go? It just kind of floated away, and I do not want that happening. No matter what's going on, we're going to talk this stuff out and make it work."
He continued: "[My wife] did the right thing — she kicked my ass right out of the house and that scared the shit out of me. She said, 'Hey, you're not just going to the therapist now and talking about this. You've got to go somewhere and sort this shit out.' So that's what I did… What worked for me was seven weeks someplace — like, basically tearing you down to bones, ripping your life apart. Anything you thought about yourself or what it was, anything you thought you had, your family, your career, anything, gone. Strip you down to just — you're born. Here's how you were when you were born — you were okay. You were a good person. Let's get back to that again. Then they slowly rebuild you."
The Australian leg of METALLICA's "WorldWired" tour was announced in March, with the first show of the trek scheduled for October 17 at Perth's Optus stadium. It was to be the first of eight stadium dates across Australia and New Zealand, including a night at Sydney's ANZ Stadium and two dates at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.
The tour would have been METALLICA's first to Australia since 2013 and first visit to New Zealand since 2010.
Hetfield's issues with addiction and alcoholism were detailed in the 2004 documentary "Some Kind Of Monster".