Autopilot Off Biography
Autopilot Off are Chris Johnson (vocals/guitar), Chris Hughes (guitar), Phil Robinson (drums) and Rob Kucharek (bass). The story begins in 1994 when Chris Hughes was introduced by his sister Shannon to kindred punk spirits Chris Johnson and Phil. Together they formed a group which saw Chris J. on bass and a friend called Eric England singing and playing guitar.
They started off modestly enough, with a set of covers and a show every once in a while, but things really started taking shape a year or two later as Chris Johnson came to the foreground as a songwriter. Autopilot Off began gigging more regularly, selling tapes in true punk DIY tradition, but the accelerating activity didn¹t suit Eric, a family man. He left and it was logical, then, for Chris to move forward to vocals and guitar, leaving a vacancy for a bass player. Eventually, he arrived in the form of Rob Kucharek, whose band six-o-seven - friends of APO - had just split up. "That's really when we started," recalls Chris Hughes. In the winter of '998, Autopilot Off felt the benefits of the community endeavor, the nurturing, that¹s unique to only punk rock and to hip hop. They went out on their first tour with The Get Up Kids and MXPX. The latter band had played with APO before and had promised: When we go out on our first headline tour, we¹ll take you guys. Now, they were honoring their promise. "That was big," says Chris H. "That was when we realized we could make a living doing what we love to do, when we realized we could do it full-time. That helped us to get other tours." Those other tours have included the Vans Warped Tour, in summer 2000, with the likes of Green Day, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, NOFX and MXPX. "We got to meet all those guys and hang out with them, and they were familiar with our band too", recalls Chris. "It was like something you dream about. It was amazing, being accepted by bands that we¹d grown up loving. I'm still not used to it, but it doesn¹t feel weird either. People are just people, and 95 percent of people in punk rock are super-friendly. They are real."
By the time of the Warped Tour, Autopilot Off had released their debut album. "Looking Up" emerged in September '999 through Fastmusic, an internet set-up based in New York. Another significant release - again typical of punk¹s mutual-support network - was a split record with Slick Shoes, a band of friends from California. It was invited by Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie for his label, Fueled by Ramen. Coming at you in a classic punk blast, with vigorous hooks and an inbuilt musical intelligence, Autopilot Off have often addressed the idea that life may be hard but, if you remain on top of things, you may be able to turn your troubles into something positive.
"Autopilot Off" was the title of a song-in-progress which proposed such a theory. Now it¹s the name of the band - a band who intend to take their message and their music to the whole wide world, including your town. Touring throughout the spring with New Found Glory and H20, Autopilot Off are committed to their public, and to each other. Chris Hughes: "We can promise that the live show is always going to be entertaining, that people will get their money¹s worth. We give '00 percent onstage. That's our job. We have a great time together, just the four of us. As much as I love music, I wouldn¹t be in the band if I didn¹t like the people. That's our big success. Money's never been an issue. Nothing has. Everyone wants the same thing."