"Into the White" and the B-sides to "Monkey Gone To Heaven" were recorded at Boston's Fort Apache studios with Gary Smith in the producer's chair. These sessions also spawned a cover of Neil Young's 'Winterlong", which later graced a Young tribute album alongside tracks by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Bongwater. Black Francis later rated the Pixies' rendition as "the best thing we ever recorded - kinda depressing if you think about it". All proceeds from the album were to benefit San Francisco's Bridge School for handicapped children. In June 1989 the group played Glastonbury, which they summarised as "a real sort of green thing, but still a rock 'n' roll type festival, which is fine", followed by several European dates supporting Francis' favourite band the Cure. Apparently, Robert Smith returned the compliment.
September saw the 'Fuck Or Fight" jaunt of the States, which was intended to promote the US release of "Monkey gone to Heaven" and "Doolittle". The band's gruelling schedule - three albums in two years, plus constant touring - was starting to take its toll. Their homecoming gig in Boston found Kim in a drunken state and Joey smashing up his instruments then storming off stage. So tiring was the final date in New York that the band were too drained to attend the next night's end-of-tour party. A vacation was in order: Joey went off to the Grand Canyon "to find himself", while David jetted to Jamaica. Charles' aversion to flying resulted in him buying a canary coloured cadilliac and crossing America with his girlfriend. Along the way he performed occasional "play to pay" solo shows to raise funds for the furniture in his new LA apartment.
Kim, meanwhile, enlisted Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly and Perfect Disaster bassist Josephine Wiggs for a session of girl's night out-takes. These eventually morphed into a reconfigured model of her previous band The Breeders, the line-up rounded out by Slint's (male) drummer Britt Walford, here trading under the alias Shannon Doughton. Recorded by Steve Albini in Edinburgh, The Breeders' debut album Pod was released in May 1990.
The Pixies reconvened at LA's Master Control Studios to record their fourth album. Despite the natural distraction of an earthquake, the sessions went well and the result was Bossanova. Science fiction and surf music were Black Francis' new obsessions - the former represented by lunar lament "Is She Weird" and alien abduction scenario "The Happening'; the latter by a cover of The Surftones' "Cecilia Ann" and shimmering acrostic "Ana", where the first letters of the song's six lines spell out the word SURFER. Further highlights included "Allison" (a tribute to jazz pianist Mose Allison), Talking Heads homage "Dig For Fire" and the romantic, theremin-driven "Velouria".
After supporting long-time fan David Bowie in Germany, the band returned to Ireland and the UK for another headlining tour, which culminated in a date at London's Brixton Academy that Kim declared "our last show". Whatever this meant, it was certainly the last chance to view the Pixies in concert for some time. An extensive 1990 US trek was cancelled due to exhaustion. Kim hitched to Brighton to work up more Breeders material with Josephine Wiggs, while Joey and David returned to the US for vacations. Black Francis soon followed on QE2, having paid for his boat fare back with three sold-out solo spots at London's Borderline in the first week of November.
The Pixies' fifth and final studio album (to date) was Trompe Le Monde, released in September 1991. Boasting a bigger, vaguely psychedelic sound - thanks in part to Captain Beefheart keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman - this underrated set was by turns anthemic (space/time travel saga "Planet Of Sound"), explosive (The Jesus And May Chain cover "Head On"), sardonic ("U-Mass", "Subbacultcha") and oddly poignant ("The Sad Punk"). Trompe Le Monde crashed into the UK Top Ten, though curiously it stalled at 92 in the States.
The band's winter tour of America sold out completely, culminating in a TV appearance on Tonight With David Letterman. They also contributed a track, "I Can't Forget", to the all-star Leonard Cohen tribute album I'm Your Man. In March 1992, the Pixies accepted the opening slot on U2's mammoth Zoo TV tour, but by the end of the year they were "on vacation" again.
On January 13, 1993, Black Francis was invited to play a live session for BBC radio DJ Mark Radcliffe. When asked if rumours that the Pixies had split were true, the frontman answered, "Yes... in one word, yes". The band's demise came just at that moment when a host of 'alternative rock' groups - most notably Nirvana - were about to find a vast new audience with music that was heavily influenced by the Pixies. Undeterred, Black Francis inverted his stage name to Frank Black, an alias under which he continues to release solo material. Kim Deal, meanwhile, revived her former band The Breeders and scored a surprise hit with their second album Last Splash.
In 2004, Pixies hysteria reignited across the globe when the band reformed for an ongoing series of live dates, including festival headline slots at Coachella, Reading and Leeds. The reaction from fans and critics alike has been universally positive, while the chemistry between the four musicians is arguably greater than ever. There has even been talk of a new album...