Note: This might not be in any particular order, but he did say all these things...

a+p: How didLast Day on Earth come about?

Neuwirth: Well, John and I had worked together, well we had known each other since the early '70s, late sixties, what ever you want to call that. About 15 years ago we had recorded some songs together and developed a style of working together for a label John had at the time. due to legalities., the music never really saw the light of day. So about ten years after that we were looking for something to do. and the opportunity presented itself. [there was nothing wrong with it, it was just legal problems with the company itself.]

a+p Why did it take so long for this to make it to album form?

Neuwirth: Well, have you tried to get an album deal lately? It's not exactly the kind of project that record companies are clamoring for. I don't know of any album that is sort of like it either in content or in length. It's almost 70 minutes of music. It almost takes up a complete CD's capacity. So it's just not the kind of project that record companies are looking for. In fact it's rather a miracle that we were turned loose in the hen house so to speak. unhampered in our creating the recording.

a+p How did you end up pulling that all together?

Neuwirth: Well, just luck really.

a+p How would you describe it?

Neuwrith: I think of it as a kind of aural Mobius strip. There's no real beginning or real end to it. I don't think of it as apocalyptic as some people have described it. I think of it as relatively hopeful. An I think that it is not time sensitive. In other words I don't think that it exists in any particular point of time. Although, I don't think that it's nostalgic either. I suppose it's post -millennium. And it's definitely a blueprint for theater. Kind of a road map for a road of life.

Is that arty enough? Let's see if I can really pump it up.

a+p: are there concrete plans for touring?

Neuwirth: nothing concrete although I can see it as a theatrical proscenium stage production, se it as a strip down (as it was in the original presentation) minimal rough recital. and I can also see it as either a kind of long-term video/film or even an animated film.

a+p: How would you do it as animation?

Neuwrith: I don't know... That's why all options are open. I think it could be a combination of live action and animation in the sense that live footage animation. I wouldn't want to draw any comparisons because I don't think it really compares to anything else. Nothing springs to mind to compare it to. It's a little bit Weill, a little bit Prairie Home Companion, a little bit radio play a little bit classical concert. I don't know what it is. I really don't know. I don't think you can have an incorrect reaction to it. I think it requires that you bring something to the table but I don't think you can have an incorrect reaction to it.

a+p: What kind of approach did you take to putting this together? Did you do it one lump?

Neuwirth: Well a lot of it was written in Espresso bars as John and I kept crossing paths. Then Brooklyn Academy of Music gave us a loft for about three weeks in November of 1990 and we cobbled it together there.

Here Neuwirth turns the tables and asks me about the album...

I'm just sort of taking an objective poll, you know, because people that not writers, but just the wisdom around when it was cobbled together "yeah but there's nothing here that people can play." Well, I kind of disagree with that. I think there are songs that kind of jump out at people. And it's proven to be the case. It's funny. Some people like one thing some people like something totally different. I know this girl who edits films in Los Angeles, she's very 'with it' like this 26-year-old blue-haired girl, very punk you know, and she's like "Well, I like a lot of it, man," Well, what do you like? The stuff that she like s I would never have guessed it. "Well it like really started to crank there toward the end. Guess she likes the distorted guitar.

a+p: What changed between the theater piece and the album?

Neuwirth: Well, we tightened it and rearranged some of the songs, we changed it lyrically to remove time-sensitive references. In the live performance we were reading from current newspapers. So we wanted to make it as timeless as possible and then we tightened it so that it would bear up under repeated listening. And we shortened it so that it would fit on one disc.

a+p: How much of this is your opinion and how much is pure fiction?

Neuwirth: I think it's all fiction but I think it's all like real life too. It's all like true stories. I think that you have to realize that all the lyrical and musical content was written for characters. It's written like lines in a play are written. So in other words it's not John being John it's John as a character and myself too. And Jenny (Muldaur, the vocalist on one of the song) she's like mother ocean talking that way. Although it's not an ecological morality play. She is part of the female presence.

If I had to what is most successful about this project, it's that it's multi-layered, that it keeps revealing itself on repeated listening. I would single that out about any musicality or individual lyrical glibness. It's like a painting.

a+p: How is your painting?

Neuwirth: I don't know what it means. It's unimportant for it to mean anything.

a+p: Have you ever exhibited your work?

Neuwrith: I do everything else in my life to just be the romantic notion of being a painter. I would turn my back on that. On being an art star.

a+p: How did you get into the folk scene?

Neuwirth: Quite by accident, but I hope that this isn't going to lead up to discussing old folk singers. I don't really want to talk about the past. I just think that we need to get into the future. The past is such a sorry kind of state of affairs. Some people sit around and are nostalgic for the past they think they remember. And other people just can't seem to get past what they think they achieved in the past. I know that it is kind of interesting for really young people to try to have a bird's eye view of what happened 25 years ago, but I think it's mostly irrelevant.

I got into performing putting myself through art school. I didn't have any money. I came from the midwest and I came to the East Coast and there was folk music there and I knew a bunch of hillbilly songs and they thought that was quaint and they gave me money to sing them. And after a while I ran out of material so I had to start making songs up because I just couldn't remember anyone else's. And no one was writing songs in those days with the exception of one or two people who were really really good, like Bob Dylan and maybe Lightning Hopkins.

I could never remember anyone's songs anyway so I just got into making things up. So I got into improvising performance. Which is in contrast to John Cale who comes from a very classical, very structured and disciplined background he was performing on the BBC at the age of 8. Then he accidentally fell into the Velvet Underground.

And I was coming for the complete other point of view, like you know, farting and tap dancing to make a living.

So much happened in such a short period of time. I mean so much . I mean "Yes," "No," or "I don't remember" is the answer to any question from that time.

a+p: I hear that you had a photography project in mind at one time, did anything ever happen with that?

Neuwirth: There were a couple different projects: one was to give people in the ghetto's free photographic equipment, the other was to give just everybody who asked for it free photographic equipment. That was a pure art piece. It was pretty weird.

a+p: [earlier in the interview Neuwirth had compared Last Day with a painting so I asked] How is your painting going?

Neuwirth: I don't know what it means. It's unimportant for it to mean anything.

a+p: Have you ever exhibited your work?

Neuwrith: I do everything else in my life to just be the romantic notion of being a painter. I would turn my back on that. On being an art star.