BurningStars.net: How did the band start?
Chris J: Basicly that was me and Phil.
Phil: We're dating!
Chris J: Phil and I. No, me and Phil were friends in high school and stuff. Kind of knew each other and play instraments.
Phil: We like to rock!
Chris J: Started playing together and we met Chris (Hughes) at the end of the first year. Then we met this slob at the end
of 1998 after a host of other bass players. He was ousted, he got kicked out of like seven other bands. He was unruly, we
tried to tame him. We still haven't succeeded. We're like Siegfreid and Roy. And Roy.
Chris H: With a gay tiger.
Chris J: Siegfreid, Roy and Roy.
Phil: And a tiger.
Chris J: And a tiger. So I guess '98 is when the band for real started but we've been playing together since like '96. And it
was all me and Phil that started it all.
Phil: Thank god for you two.
Chris J: Chris is our first kid, then we had some others. We even had two older kids that were estranged from our other
middle children. And then Robbie is the baby.
BS: Where did you get the name Autopilot Off?
Chris J: It was actually origionally the name of a song. We had another name before that but we got sued and had to
change it. So Autopilot Off was the name of a song we had, so we just kind of like encompassed all the stuff we thought
our music and stuff was about so we used that as our band name
Phil: It was pretty.
Chris J: We thought it fit.
Phil: We wanted it to be Butterfly.
BS: Which bands influence your song writing?
Phil: Face To Face.
Chris J: Green Day
Phil: Lagwagon, just all bands we grew up with.
Chris J: Bad Religion, NoFX. Oh this guy likes The Clash a lot.
Chris H: Yeah I like everything!
Chris J: He got us into he Clash.
Chris H: We all turned each other on to different things.
BS: What's the best thing about touring?
Chris J: Backstage food, definately.
Rob: Yeah potato chips, peanut butter and jelly.
Chris H: The best thing about touring is touring with all your friends. H20 has asked us to do every tour in the past two
years I think.
Chris J: Yeah, they've been really cool about it and with this time it worked out that both of us got this tour. It's cool you
get to be with your friends, hang out every day.
Rob: Get to see kids be psycho.
Chris J: You get to se e bands you like. It's awesome! It's great!
Phil: Everything about touring is great.
Chris J: Well the traveling sucks. We're hoping to get to H20 status and get a tour bus.
BS: And the worst thing?
Chris J: The worst thing is the drives. You can't really hang out. Everyone gets to hang out, we got to drive. It sucks!
Phil: But what are you going to do?
BS: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and why?
Chris J: Green Day because they are kind of my favorite band. Yeah, probably Green Day would be the best one. That
would be insane!
Phil: I'd like to tour with the Bosstones.
Chris H: Kurt Hammet.
Chris J: Kurt Helmet.
Phil: Kurt Cameron.
BS: Have you ever had any strange fan ecounters?
Chris J: Yes.
Phil: Very many.
Chris H: More than we'd like to get into.
Chris J: That's all we have is strange fans. We don't have any normal fans.
Chris H: That's not true!
Chris J: It's just the strange ones stand out. The strange fans are always more vocal. Strange fans will always attack you
but it's cool.
Phil: We're not the most normal people.
BS: What were the best and worst jobs you had before being in a band?
Chris J: I worked in this store called Delia's and the stock room was really small. It was an eight-foot by ten-foot stock
room with nothing in it. I just basicly showed up and got paid for nothing.
Phil: That was your worst job?
Chris J: That was a best job. I did like nothing. I'd play garbage can basket ball but then it got boring. It got to the point
that there was nothing to do so I didn't want to go much because I knew that I'd get bored and there'd be nothing to do.
Chris H: Worst job I've ever had? Any job I've ever had I always managered to get out of it without doing anything hard.
So I don't know if I ever had any. I've always been like "yeah".
Phil: I was bus boy for a day!
Chris H: Best job was managing H20 for the summer and the worst was guitar teching. It was hard as hell. That's what it
was right there. Touring managing was the best, guitar teching was the worst. Changing strings every day.
Chris J: We used to work together at a shoe store called Bass for a while, which was a good job. That was when we
played paper baseball in the backroom.
Phil: That was fun!
Chris J: But then they switched and got this new manager and that became the era of the new manager up until the time
we left. That was the worst job.
Chris H: I quit that job. What I did was I waited for all the new boxes that would come in and I knew I was going to quit.
She sucked, this women we worked for. He already left, so we waited till two hundred boxes came in the room and I told
them I was going on break. And I took all my shit and went home and never came back. They kept calling my house,
thought I was dead or something going "wait this place is a mess" and never talked to them again.
Chris J: Had a few hundred jobs I think. I worked in a snack bar too. The snack bar was good cause it was like free
slushies and like whatever. What about you Rob?
Rob: Worst job?
Phil: Gay model? Best job I ever had?
Chris J: What about the cat factory or where ever you worked?
Phil: Cats, cats and more cats. That was actually my worst job. I never went, I just stopped going. That was my first job. I
worked as a bus boy for a day. I worked in a deli for a day.
Chris J: What about Pappy's? Tell the Pappy's story.
Chris H: No that's a bit much.
Chris J: Sometimes you just don't make it!
Chris H: Well this guy I worked with was making a sandwich and then he shit his pants. He was just standing there and
he was like and ran and he comes out, he always wears shorts. He's one of those guys who always wore shorts in the
middle of winter. He comes out and he has an apron on the front which is normal and I just saw his legs so I didn't think
twice. But when he turned around he had an apron on his back. And I was like "what the hell is that?" and he's like
"buddy, sometimes you just don't make it!". I was like "what the hell is that supposed to mean? you don't make it?" and
he's like "I didn't make it". And then I thought about what he meant, he just shit his pants.
Chris J: He was also a complete alcoholic!
BS: What would you be doing if you weren't in a band?
Chris H: I'd still be working at the deli.
Chris J: Drugs! No, I don't know.
Phil: We have no idea.
Chris H: I have no idea. Something in music. I'd still maybe tour manage. I would be, that was what I was origionally
supposed to be.
Chris J: I don't know maybe I could be a drug teacher. Just joking! Just say "mo gimme some mo".
BS: What do you do in your spare time?
Chris H: There is no spare time right now. Sleep, that's it. We get up and do the band again.
Chris J: Drugs!
Phil: That's what you like most about being in a band?
Chris J: Drugs! Every answer! What's the next question?
BS: Do you have any advice for an aspiring musician?
Chris J: Don't do drugs!
Chris H: Be persistant. Never give up!
BS: Most embarrassing moment while on tour?
Chris J: I don't know if I've had mine yet, but it's sure to come. I get embarrassed when the whole band isn't as good to
me. It makes the band look bad. Like I'm totally awesome on stage and they're like mediocre. It's so weak! No I don't
Chris H: That's a good question. I'm trying to think if I've ever fallen down. I've come damn close.
Phil: We got caught making out that one time! That was pretty bad.
Chris J: That was pretty bad!
Chris H: Oh you know what's embarrassing? Every day on this tour, I'll go into my pocket and there's these truck stop
herbal sex supplements. Basicly like Viagra pills. And no one knows how they're getting into my coat. Someone's putting
You're buying them!
Chris H: I did not buy them!
Phil: You take them off the rack and you give the guy a dollar.
Chris J: Maybe you're stealing them.
Chris H: Maybe I'm losing my memory when I'm going into stores and stealing them. Except I have a complete
recollection of being in every store. In fact there's store I didn't go in and I still got stuff in my pocket.
Chris J: Yeah, kleptomania! You go into the stores but it's not you it's the other you. So the regular you doesn't have any
memory of going in there.
Chris H: Lou has one. We were on tour with MxPx and Lou ruined MxPx's tour bus.
Phil: Oh that was awesome!
Chris H: That was probably the most embarrassing thing we've ever had.
Phil: He thought the place was on fire.
Chris H: He thought there was a fire. He was really wasted and there was a candle lit. He thought the bus was on fire so
he took one of the guys hats, slammed the candle and wax went everywhere. It was a brand new tour bus and it ruined it.
Lou: I was 17 years old, 18 years old. It was on the first tour with the first tour bus ever.
Chris J: First night of the tour.
Phil: It was Mike's birthay though.
Chris J: So everyone was pretty drunk when we got out of there.
Phil: But Gloria made him drink like a squeegee rag or bar rag of all these drinks.
Chris J: I wonder what was in that. It was like every possible liqour that we drank. And then there was a fire.
Chris H: No. Nothing in my pockets yet.
Chris J: Why are you looking at me? I'm not doing it. I'm really not. I'd love to take credit for it but it's not me. I wish I'd
thought of it.
Autopilot Off (left to right): Rob Kucharek (bass), Chris Johnson (vocals/guitar), Phil Robinson (drums) & Chris
photo & interview by: Maureen Benedict