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November 7, 2008


GIRLS ON FILM

Ladies of Von Iva score spot in upcoming Jim Carrey film

By STEPHEN BOVE
Staff Writer

The ladies of Von Iva may not have set out to be screen sirens, but when Tinseltown literally came calling, well, what were the three feral femmes to do?

"It's so random. We put out our full-length, "Our Own Island,' last summer, and followed it up with a little minitour," said organist/keyboardist Becky "Bex" Kupersmith. "Right as we got back, we got a phone call from Warner Bros. saying, "We're interested in having you be a part of this movie. Can you meet with the director?' I guess what happened was the music supervisor saw our CD at Amoeba Music (in Los Angeles) and thought it would be a really good fit for the movie, a comedy where Zooey Deschanel is a lead singer in a band. So we became the band.

"The whole experience was really fun; they gave us a lot of creative control.

So while we've never been like, "Hey, let's go to Hollywood,' this was a huge opportunity for us."

The film, "Yes Man," starring Deschanel and Jim Carrey, is scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 19 — an opening awaited as much by Von Iva, which also includes vocalist Jillian Iva and drummer Kelly Harris, as it is by moviegoers.

"They offered to do a screening for us, but we were like, "No, we want to wait,' " Bex said. "So we don't have any idea, it could be literally be us out of focus in the background. But we get to go to the premiere and stuff, so it should be pretty fun."

The band, scheduled to play Sunday at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, released its latest EP, "Girls on Film," Oct. 28.

Imagine the purr of a '70 Chevelle SS as its 450 roars to crescendo — or the primal howl of Tina Turner fronting The Ramones in an all-night cheap-whiskey garage jam. A lean, mean soul-punk machine, Von Iva packs a motor of revved disco, snarling garage rock and dusky-eyed rhythm and blues under one hood — and creates a sound that is purely, simply, rock 'n' roll.

"Our influences, I guess, is the main questions people have, like "Where is this coming from?' It happens a lot. I never really know what to say," Bex said. "Our instrumentation is very minimal but very aggressive; it comes from the music that we all love to listen to, dancey, rock-influenced, disco, soul, the whole package.

"We're absolutely a live band. With the recordings, we try to do everything so that we can play it all live. There's no overdubs or weird stuff like that on there," she added. "We make a conscious effort to be able to play live everything that's recorded. I think that's been a challenge, to capture that kind of energy and craziness that happens at the live shows on the recordings. I guess I don't really listen to the recordings all that much, but it's definitely more loud, more aggressive, more in your face."

Named after Iva's great grandmother — a carnival snake charmer — Von Iva has opened for such acts as the Go-Go's, Lady Sovereign, The Walkmen, the Gossip, The Raveonettes, Imperial Teen, Girl in a Coma and Noisepop.

Founded as a four-piece, the band originally included bassist Elizabeth Davis (formerly of 7 Year Bitch), who left the band in 2006, and has since left Bex and her organ to hold down the fort.

"It's still the same energy and spirit that's always been there," she said. "We tried to add a guitarist but, I don't know, it just didn't sound right. We decided to just keep things really simple, really to the point and just stick with the three of us. And it's working out great. Jillian has such a powerful voice, Kelly hits really hard and they play really loud. We don't need anything else."