After finishing among the final 10 female contestants on “American Idol” in 2007, St. Charles native Leslie Hunt continues to explore new musical horizons.
Hunt fronts Chicago progressive rock band District 97, which recently released its second album, “Trouble With Machines.” The band will perform Friday at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles.
Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Three Friends also are on the bill. The show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are available at www.oshows.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had a chance to talk to Hunt about her latest activities.
Eric Schelkopf: Great to talk to you again. You guys are touring on the back on your latest album, “Trouble With Machines.” What kind of musical goals did you have for the album?
Leslie Hunt: This album was way more collaborative. On our first album, “Hybrid Child,” Jonathan Schang (the band’s drummer) pretty much wrote everything. This one is a lot more collaborative, so that was awesome. And we were a lot more hands on in the studio as well. I think it shows, too. We all feel super proud of the record, because we all had a say.
ES: So, you think the album represents more of a group effort?
ES: It seems like you are touring a lot with this new album, especially this month.
LH: Yeah, we’re going on a nice little tour. We’ve been working on putting together a tour since February, but we knew it probably wouldn’t happen until the fall.
ES: District 97 has toured with legendary musicians and acts like John Wetton and Kansas. What do you learn from such experiences?
LH: I definitely think we learn something from bands that have been around for a little longer. I think we actually learn the most from their fans. They’re so hands on and following a band like Kansas around for decades. And so then they come up to a new band like us and give us some advice. Some of it is pretty sound. It’s great watching guys that have been at it for so long. They really do put on such a great show still. They look like they are happy to be there, which is inspiring to us.
ES: Of course, this is a busy year for you. Earlier this year, you released your second studio album, “Wait For It.” How you do juggle being in District 97 with your own solo career?
LH: It’s not too difficult, because I’m in the driver’s seat for my solo career. If a lot is going on in the month of October for District 97, I won’t schedule much for myself. Jonathan drives the ship for District 97 and he keeps us pretty busy, which is nice.
ES: Your music is totally different from District 97’s music. Do you feel schizophrenic at all switching from District 97’s music to your music?
LH: I don’t actually feel schizophrenic. I feel like they are both completely integral for my artistic identity. I wouldn’t feel complete if either of them were removed.
ES: Do you mind that people still associate you with “American Idol?”
LH: I don’t mind – not at all. It was a cool thing that I had the privilege of having to add to my bio. It perks people’s interest, but then if they delve in a little further, they realize that my career is really beyond that now. I’ve come so far since then.