Which living artist would you most like to collaborate with and why?
I would love to work with Björk. She understands that music is life, pure and simple, and I think I could learn a lot from her.
What was your most memorable experience onstage?
In the Melkweg in Amsterdam, halfway through a set with Henry Cow, I became aware that a very large man with an axe was standing behind me. The audience was probably too stoned to notice. Our roadies were weighing the options: "We rush him, he decapitates Fred," versus "We don't rush him, he decapitates Fred." They decided to pretend he wasn't there. We played out the set, and I turned to the guy and asked, "What are you doing?" He replied, "I am protecting you."
What screen actor would you want to play the lead role in the film The Fred Frith Story?
I would be too busy trying to have the film banned to worry about who was acting in it.
What was the wildest time you ever had involving a guitar?
I was in Tokyo in July 1981. It was very hot and humid. I had an afternoon concert with Keiji Haino. Before the concert, I was backstage looking for something to pour on the guitar. In those days (and still sometimes now) I used different-sized grains - rice, lentils and so on - to pour on the strings. The only thing I could find was some instant coffee, so during the performance, I started pouring it on the strings. It didn't really sound like anything; I needed a lot to get any effect at all. But it was very hot, and when I started sweating on the guitar the coffee started to percolate, and this thick sticky brown mass foamed up from the body and through the strings, gluing them together in a horrible but quite nice-smelling swamp and rendering the instrument unplayable, while Haino watched bemused.
If you'd never got involved with music, how would you be making a living today?
Editing for some tiny publishing company specializing in obscure articles about international agricultural practices.