Iron Maiden founder Steve Harris has a lot to be grateful for at this stage of the band's incredible career — not the least of which is the fact that he doesn't have to worry about starting out in today's crowded entertainment landscape.

Speaking with Kerrang! prior to the launch of Maiden's first full-scale U.K. tour in more than five years, Harris compared the odds faced by today's young rock acts to the way things were when Maiden made their run at the big time, and unsurprisingly concluded that things were better back then. "It’s very, very tough. I think it’s tougher than ever," he argued. "Now there are so many bands and not so many outlets for it. And it’s tougher than ever to earn a crust doing it, too. I sort of feel sorry for bands in a lot of ways."

Singling out Avenged Sevenfold and Biffy Clyro as acts that have managed to carve out a niche despite audience fragmentation and rock's retreat from the Top 40, Harris noted that in some respects, things are still the same — that ultimately, an artist's success comes down in some respects to "the luck of the draw." But even as he noted that "you've just got to keep chipping away" until you find your audience, he admitted it's hard for him to see the future for his style of music. "Even with us, if we finally hang the old guitars up, you think, ‘Who’s going to come and take over?'"

While many of their peers have struggled or faded away, Maiden persevere — something Harris attributes squarely to the dedication of the band's fan base. "We get a loyalty like no other band I know," he added. "I kind of do understand it, but what did we do special to deserve that? I don't know. We've always treated our fans well, we've always tried to write the best songs we can, give 100 percent and all of those things, but there's other bands that have done that too."

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