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Because the main participants in singer/songwriter Todd Pasternack's Marlow project all have strong jam band credentials — including guitarist Lo Faber, drummer Ted Marotta, and Pasternack himself — some people have wrongly assumed that Marlow is a jam band. But, in fact, Marlow's music does not fall into the jam band category; Marlow's earthy roots rock brings to mind Tom Petty, the Black Crowes, John Cougar Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen rather than the Grateful Dead, Kingfish, or the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Not all of Marlow's influences are male; Sheryl Crow is also a valid comparison, and Pasternack has claimed Aimee Mann (former lead vocalist of the popular '80s band 'Til Tuesday) as an influence. Like Mann, Pasternack writes a lot of dark, melancholy lyrics — many of Mann's albums have had a very world-weary outlook, and the term "world-weary" easily describes Marlow's debut album, White Out. Full of sadness, disillusionment, heartbreak, and remorse, White Out is Pasternack's account of a romantic relationship that failed. In a 2002 interview, Pasternack described that romance as "a very unhealthy, abusive relationship" and added that writing the highly personal songs on White Out was cathartic for him — he seemed to view White Out as part of his emotional healing process.
Pasternack, who plays acoustic and electric guitar as well as bass and piano, was playing in bands several years before his Marlow project got underway in 2001. Originally from New York City's Long Island suburbs, Pasternack was living in Albany, NY (the state capital), when he joined a local outfit called the Mr. Ferguson Band (which recorded two albums that Pasternack co-produced). Members of the Ominous Seapods, an East Coast jam band, were well aware of Pasternack's work with the Mr. Ferguson Band — and when guitarist Max Verna announced that he was leaving the Seapods in late 1998, Pasternack was hired to replace him. Pasternack has also been a member of the Lo Faber Band, another East Coast jam band. When the Seapods decided to take a break in 2001 (they never officially disbanded), Pasternack launched his Marlow project and recruited musicians he knew from the Seapods and the Lo Faber Band. In November 2001, Pasternack began co-producing White Out with Seapods drummer Ted Marotta and bassist Lo Faber; keyboardist/organist Devin Greenwood (who Pasternack knew from both the Seapods and the Lo Faber Band) appeared on some of the songs. Marlow finished recording White Out in January 2002, and Pasternack released the album independently on his own label, Marlow Music, later that year. After spending much of his life in various parts of New York state, Pasternack moved to Philadelphia in 2002.