They Just Seem a Little Weird

How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll


By Doug Brod

Read by Eric Stuart

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A veteran music journalist explores how four legendary rock bands—KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz—laid the foundation for two diametrically opposed subgenres: hair metal in the '80s and grunge in the '90s.

It was the age when heavy-footed, humorless dinosaurs roamed the hard-rock landscape. But that all changed when into these dazed and confused mid-'70s strut-ted four flamboyant bands that reveled in revved-up anthems and flaunted a novel theatricality. In They Just Seem a Little Weird, veteran entertainment journalist Doug Brod offers an eye- and ear-opening look at a crucial moment in music history, when rock became fun again and a gig became a show. This is the story of friends and frenemies who rose, fell, and soared once more, often sharing stages, studios, producers, engineers, managers, agents, roadies, and fans-and who are still collaborating more than forty years on.

In the tradition of David Browne's Fire and Rain and Sheila Weller's Girls Like Us, They Just Seem a Little Weird seamlessly interweaves the narratives of KISS, Cheap Trick, and Aerosmith with that of Starz, a criminally neglected band whose fate may have been sealed by a shocking act of violence. This is also the story of how these distinctly American groups-three of them now enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-laid the foundation for two seemingly opposed rock genres: the hair metal of Poison, Skid Row, and Mötley Crüe and the grunge of Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and the Melvins. Deeply researched, and featuring more than 130 new interviews, this book is nothing less than a secret history of classic rock.


  • "Once upon a time, in the faraway galaxy known as the '70s, there were four tightly knit gangs of misfits and screwups-three mega-platinum Hall of Fame bands and one near miss. Doug Brod thoroughly and seamlessly chronicles their interlocking stories, and how their ups and downs, friendships and rivalries, lucky breaks and twists of fate rewrote the rules of rock and roll for America's denim-clad masses."
    Alan Light, SiriusXMradio host and author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen,Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"
  • "They Just Seem a Little Weird is a wildly entertaining study of four Me Decade bands, showing how their influence would come to shape successive generations and genres of music. Doug Brod delivers the perfect balance of reportage, reminiscence, and rock-and-roll excess. Deeply researched, evocatively written, and utterly enjoyable-this is a surprisingly essential work of pop culture history."
    Bob Mehr, author of TroubleBoys: The True Story of the Replacements
  • "Doug Brod gives the '70s hard rock world of Kiss, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz the scholarly research, historical narrative and-above all else-the respect it deserves. You'll be constantly entertained and enlightened by his backstage stories and newly unearthed-and eye-opening-connections between all those bands. The book rock and rolls and parties all night, on every page."
    David Browne,author, Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, JamesTaylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970
  • "Doug Brod's detail-rich book exemplifies the same transfixing qualities of the bands he profiles: The over-the-top hysteria of KISS, the creative tension of Aerosmith, the charming accessibility of Cheap Trick, and the competency of Starz."
    Chuck Klosterman,author of Fargo Rock City
  • "Doug Brod surrenders to his passion for '70s pop rock in this thoroughly researched and meticulously wrought group portrait, and, much to his credit, he is happy to give himself away as a lifelong fan of music he defends as well worth the attention. This a rock book of the rarest kind: unaffected, unpretentious, and unafraid to be fun."
    David Hajdu, authorof Positively 4th Street
  • "They Just Seem a Little Weird tells the whole strange story of how '70s rock conquered the world, from Detroit Rock City to Budokan. Doug Brod brilliantly captures the moment when loud guitars collided with old-school showbiz glitz and helped create the future."
    Rob Sheffield, authorof Dreaming the Beatles
  • "Doug Brod describes KISS as 'smart guys writing dumb songs for smart people.' In this loving and detailed book, Brod is a smart guy writing about dumb bands for smart people. He turns over every rawk in finding connections between four proudly ludicrous bands who have rarely been taken this seriously, except by their accountants. Brod follows these longhaired scallywags from obscurity to debauchery to (usually, not always) sobriety, and tells a story that isn't about just rock music, but about America."
    Rob Tannenbaum,coauthor of I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music VideoRevolution
  • "You wanted the best and you got it, the hottest rock-history book of the year... They Just Seem a Little Weird! Doug Brod expertly weaves together the stories of three iconic bands and a fourth act, Starz, you may never have heard of-but by which you'll be no less intrigued. It's a smart, funny, and thoroughly fascinating look at an incredibly influential era in American rock music."
    Mark Yarm, authorof Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge
  • "I'm a little older than Doug Brod, so my rock heroes were Dylan, the Stones, Roxy Music, and the underappreciated Procol Harum. But Brod grew up with Kiss, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and the tragically underappreciated Starz. They Just Seem A Little Weird is a wonderful account of the incestuous relationships of these four groups. Brod is a first-class music historian-he's interviewed musicians, promoters, managers, radio programmers, and even fans to fill out the interlocking family trees of these groups and, in the process, provided much more detailed accounts than those available at So pour a glass of cold gin, crack open the book, let the music do the talking and surrender to the glory of rock and roll."
    Larry "Ratso"Sloman, author of On the Road with Bob Dylan
  • "They Just Seem A Little Weird pays tribute to the bands I started loving as a young teen. When Kiss, Aerosmith, and Cheap Trick finally broke through, I could say, 'I told you so' to all of the disbelievers, but Starz were also important to me. I saw all of these bands live in New York City and loved every minute. Doug Brod nails it and takes me back. It's a fun read."
    Matt Pinfield, radioand TV host
  • "In uncovering the zillion interconnections between three of the most popular and influential rock bands of their era-and one that shoulda, coulda, woulda been-They Just Seem a Little Weird compellingly embodies a familiar but essential life lesson: it's a small world after all, so be nice to everyone you meet, because you might do a reunion tour with them 40 years from now."
    Michael Azerrad,author of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the Indie Underground1981-1991
  • "Starz 4ever! Doug Brod delivers on the preposterous bands that made the '70s fun and the '80s a blur, all while feeding sincerity to the crocodiles and reinflating the rock star."
    RJ Smith, authorof The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

On Sale
Dec 1, 2020
Hachette Audio

Doug Brod

About the Author

Doug Brod is the former editor in chief of SPIN magazine and was a long-time editor at Entertainment Weekly. He has worked for Atlantic Records, taught at New York University, and was a segment producer of the comedy/music television series Oddville, MTV. Brod has also written for the New York Times, Billboard, Classic Rock, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Trouser Press Record Guide. A native New Yorker, he lives with his family in Toronto.

Learn more about this author