Grant Street Orchestra is a Portland-based, seven-piece hip-hop band. But wait, it’s also a funk band. And a rock band. With guitars, horns, bass, drums and two MCs, GSO has earned its stripes across a spectrum of genres, culminating with the release of its debut CD, “Passionately Late.” With an unofficial mantra of “We are here to make people move and to move people,” vocalist Jeff “Mint” Griecci and guitarist Andy Barbo break it all down.

In a seven-piece band, who writes what?

Griecci: Jared (Burst) and I write all the lyrics. The music, for the most part, is written by all the musicians. These guys take the beats I make and digest them and make them their own. They’ll take some idea and mold it into something that they like, and I have a hand in helping to write some of the music.

Barbo: The words are on the MCs’ shoulders. If there’s a guitar part that I really enjoy playing that I made up — and this goes for any of the other musicians — I show it to the rest of the group and they’ll listen, process it, and they’ll build their part from the first person until we fill the beat and we get to a place where we like it.

Are there particular themes on this record?

Griecci: “Phone Sex” is about the crutch of technology with a play on words. Jared wrote “City of Cracks” about Portland and his experience with growing up here and then leaving the city and returning. “Lurkin’ ” is also a track that’s about the city. It’s about walking late at night after work when most folks are in bed. Jared and I both worked at a pizza shop, so we were often walking home late at night.

Where was “Passionately Late” recorded?

Griecci: The first half was at The Studio with Jim Begley, and the second half with Abel Adame at Acadia Studios. We mixed it with Eric Bettencourt at ShadowShine Studios.

Where did the name Grant Street Orchestra come from?

Griecci: When we started, it was just Andy and I before we brought the five other guys in during the summer of 2009, and Andy and I lived on Grant Street. So before we had seven guys, we called ourselves Grant Street Orchestra as sort of a joke.

Barbo: People will come up to us after a show and talk about how they used to live in that neighborhood and that connects us to people just as much as the music does.

How did you choose the name of the CD, “Passionately Late”?

Barbo: It was after band practice, and we were sitting and talking about potential album names and that people had been waiting for a long time for our album to come out, and we felt like we were pretty late on it. Someone said “fashionably late,” and I misheard it and heard “passionately late.”

What bands or performers are your influences?

Barbo: I was a ska kid growing up and into Catch 22, Streetlight Manifesto and Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Grant Street Orchestra has the horns and is the ska band I never had. Also, The Shins, especially growing up. I put a lot of those kinds of ambient sounds into the songs.

Griecci: Definitely the Beastie Boys. Once I got to college, I started enjoying hip-hop more with bands like Hieroglyphics, A Tribe Called Quest and Arrested Development. As far as musical performance goes, I get a lot of influence from Spoon and also Tom Waits, both lyrically and from the eclectic sound. He’s a huge influence.

Care to share your thoughts on the local hip-hop scene and how you fit in?

Barbo: It’s very supportive. We’re invited to lay down beats once a month at rap night at the Big Easy. Being a familiar face and being part of the scene is welcome and gratifying.

Griecci: I was scared (expletive) the first time we played to a hip-hop crowd because we’re not the typical hip-hop act.

Barbo: We don’t have a turntable or two or three MCs or a laptop, and right now in the hip-hop world, it’s pretty standard to have those things. We’re a different act in the respect that we have a full lineup of musicians. I specifically remember that first show because the audience was apprehensive and unsure because of the full band with two rappers in skinny jeans.

But what was really cool was a lot of guys came up to us and said we really killed it at doing our own thing. They respected we were doing our own thing, and that’s all we can really ask for, because we’re not the regular hip-hop get-up. We’re not a typical funk band or R&B or jazz or hip-hop band but, regardless, we’re still getting respect.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: [email protected]