Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was asked in a new interview with USA Today how frontman James Hetfield is doing since he checked himself into rehab last month. Ulrich responded, “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.”

Metallica called off an October tour of Australia and New Zealand after it was revealed that Hetfield, who has been sober since 2002, went back into treatment to battle his addictions.

Asked if he was surprised that Hetfield returned to rehab, Ulrich didn’t answer directly but said, “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.”

Hetfield told us a while back that entering rehab 17 years ago was one of the scariest times in his life: [“I was just kind of really scared. I was dropped off into this place and at that point my family was in question. Basically the family had split up, or I was no longer in the house, and it was totally one of the most scary times in my life. It was really like the earth was shaking under me, there was no stability, it felt like a constant earthquake. I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going.”] SOUNDCUE (:30 OC: . . . I was going.)

The 56-year-old Hetfield’s struggles were detailed in the 2004 documentary Some Kind Of Monster.