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After being at the Warped Tour for five hours of sweltering 90 degree heat and about 320 percent humidity, it was my opportunity to talk to these four guys who just had their EP released on Island Records. After surpassing all goals that Island had, Sum 41 has opened the eyes of the label to the pseudo-punk bands of the new millennium and Autopilot Off is the recipient of that success. With an EP just released and a 30-minute set in front of thousands of screaming, sweaty and sun-burnt kids, the band sits on their tour bus as virginal to the rock tour scene as half the crowd they just played in front of. But don’t let the inexperience fool anyone, because although they are inexperienced to the cross-country tour, they are not afraid and go at their show like Jenna Jameson attacks a guy’s organ on camera.

“We have been to like every Warped Tour since it started and now we find ourselves a part of it. It’s fucking cool. Just last year we were at the show watching as fans and now we are one of the bands all these kids are checking out,” said guitarist Chris “Houston” Hughes.

The bands self-titled EP is the major label follow-up to their 2000 independent release Looking Up. The 5-song EP is enough to show any listener that although Autopilot Off will most likely be lumped within the world of nu-punk, there is some aggressiveness and independence still in the bands music that keeps it afloat in the ever-increasing cesspool MTV-style punk rock.

There is no doubts that the band did what they wanted, played what they wanted and recorded what they felt. Sure, it’s not Mozart, Beethoven or The Ramones. But Autopilot Off did this EP their way, and is very excited when people like it, and don’t really give a shit if someone doesn’t.

“We didn’t make this record for people, we made what we wanted to make. And it is awesome to see kids go crazy for our music. But if they don’t like it, that’s fine, too. But we are not going to change to try and get people to like us,” said singer/guitarist Chris Johnson.

This is an exciting band with a lot of potential to copy the success of Sum 41 without copying Sum 41. Should be interesting to see how Autopilot Off evolves over the next few years. Because once the autopilot is off, it is up to those in control to land safely or crash and burn. I think these four will be able to land safely in rock’s already busy runway.

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