Autopilot Off formed in 1996 under the name Cooter. They slowly gained popularity by doing live shows throughout the 90's while sharing the stage with more popular bands such as MxPx, Goldfinger, Sum 41, Yellowcard and H2O. They eventually recorded their first full length album, Looking Up. In 2000 the band was involved in a bitter lawsuit with the Mississippi punk rock band The Cooters, who own the trademark to the name Cooter. The New York band settled out of court in 2002, and changed their name to Autopilot Off. However, Autopilot Off's record label Fastmusic, took the lawsuit all the way to Federal Court and lost to the Mississippi band. Autopilot Off then signed with their major label, Island Records shortly afterwards. After this they released their eponymous debut EP in the spring of 2002.
In 2004, under their new name Autopilot Off, they released their major debut album, Make a Sound. This included the single "What I Want", which was co-written by Rancid's Tim Armstrong.