From left to right: Sienna Mahoney (bass), Stephen Peniston (guitar), Pangelica (lead vocals), Zach Inschol (drums)
From left to right: Sienna Mahoney (bass), Stephen Peniston (guitar), Pangelica (lead vocals), Zach Inschol (drums) Credit: Schaun Champion

Many Baltimore bands emerged in the pandemic age. Few are as star-powered as Hormone.

Hormone came together in March 2022, and is made up of Pangelica on lead vocals, Sienna Mahoney on bass, Stephen Peniston on guitar, and Zach Inschol on drums. Pangelica, who goes by just her first name, was born and raised in Baltimore and has connections to Chicago; Mahoney is from St. Thomas U.S.V.I; Peniston is from Appleton, Wisconsin; and Inscho is from Columbus, Ohio.

“We all have been active in the Baltimore scene for years,” said Pangelica. “Our people are from the underground — dive bars, basements, and warehouses.”

Hormone. From left to right: Sienna Mahoney (bass), Stephen Peniston (guitar), Pangelica (lead vocals), Zach Inschol (drums). Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

This current configuration of this group emerged naturally, and their enigmatic punk rock sound is critical to understanding what music in Baltimore should and does sound like today. The cohesion in their raucous sound is achieved through practice, proximity, and providence. And the work that they have done individually means that they are Baltimore music scene veterans.

Like many Baltimore bands, Hormone is home to several multihyphenates. Pangelica is an arts administrator, half-owner of the queer, community-focused organization, GRL PWR, and a DJ. Mahoney is a visual arts educator and the lead singer of the punk band Pearl. Peniston is a self-professed jack of all trades and also plays guitar in the punk band Labrys. Inscho, plays drums in the indie rock band Posmic and guitar in Eggman.

If you’re looking to support Hormone for Sienna Mahoney the answer is simple. “Just love on us.” “Run up our plays on Bandcamp,” Pangelica adds.

The group has upcoming shows on April 18 at Rhizome DC, April 26 at Ottobar in Baltimore, and April 30 at Holy Frijoles in Baltimore.

Hormone. From left to right: Sienna Mahoney (bass), Stephen Peniston (guitar), Pangelica (lead vocals), Zach Inschol (drums). Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

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How did Hormone get started? 

Sienna Mahoney: It started when [musician/artist] Gabbie Bam Bam and I met up when she was in town one day and decided we wanted to play music together. Then we went to the studio, came up with a couple of songs, and realized we needed a solid singer and a drummer to make it strong. Zach and I played in a band called Mallwalker, and I thought he would help round it out. Then I was at [Mount Royal] Tavern one night and saw Pangelica chilling at the bar. We grabbed a few drinks, and I told her I was putting this band together. She was hesitant at first, and then she agreed.

Hormone’s bassist Sienna Mahoney. Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

Pangelica: I am typically hesitant to collaborate with people in general. I get asked all the time, but Sienna persuaded me by telling me she was putting together an all-girl band, which has been a long-standing secret fantasy of mine. Imagine my shock to arrive at the first practice and see Zach on the drums. I made a bit of a fuss at first. I was apprehensive about collaborating with men in any creative aspect at the time. Accusations were coming out about people in the Baltimore music scene, which greatly affected my practice as a musician. But working with Hormone, I feel completely safe. Zach grew on me, and we built a solid friendship all our own.

SM: Actually, I’d asked Pan a while before we contacted Zach, so initially, it was going to be all femmes. For a while, it was just me and Gabbie so when Zach joined it started to feel like a real project. I’d always loved how Pan used her vocal processor in her solo projects, so I knew having us all together would make something really worthwhile. 

Zach Inscho: Gabbie Bam Bam ended up having to leave the band so we found ourselves looking for a new guitarist. I invited Stephen to join because I think he’s the best.

Hormone’s drummer Zach Inschol. Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

Stephen Peniston: And that is the story of Hormone.

All of you individually have unique contributions to the Baltimore music scene, I’m curious about how in your own words you’ve seen it change in the past few years.

ZI: Bands-wise, I feel like there are more hardcore punk bands and less art punk and metal bands, and it’s been really cool to see more Black and Brown folks booking and playing shows in the DIY/punk scene.

SM: Before the pandemic started, a lot of DIY spaces shut down, and now they are starting to reemerge a little.

Pangelica: As someone who grew up here and has been sneaking into shows since I was 16, I’d say that Baltimore used to be a lot more diverse. There were more niches, and each had its own solid community.  Now, there are waves of what people are interested in, which is the type of music reflected in the scene. For example, rap monopolized and over-saturated the DIY scene before the pandemic. But after the pandemic, people are more interested in punk music and raves.  

Hormone’s lead vocalist Pangelica. Photo by Schaun Champion.

I was really moved by these lyrics in “Purge.”

“Do you want to make up your mind

Leaving all the bullshit behind

Leaving the shit that’s not serving you

This is what you have to do, this is what you have to do

You tell me and I tell you

Everything has to go! (repeats until the end)”

Hormone practicing in their studio. Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

Many people, especially Black and Brown artists and creatives, can connect with these lyrics. What were you thinking about when you made this song?  

Pangelica: The lyrics quoted above happen at the very end of “Purge.” This part specifically is a response to the self-saboteur – the inner devil whose voice is so loud it asphyxiates. It is a mental inventory, a spring cleaning of the mind.

The “you tell me, and I tell you” lyric is a little Easter egg for my son because we have this thing where we repeat back and forth to each other, “You don’t tell me, I tell you!” A nonsensical affirmation is reclaiming one’s sense of power at the most basic, fundamental level a child can understand.

Hormone’s guitarist Stephen Peniston. Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

What is the meaning behind your band’s name? 

SM: I always think that “Hormone” is related to attitude and temperament, which we all have a lot of.

Pangelica: I threw the name Hormone into the name pot because I think one word is a strong and bold choice when naming projects. Hormones drive everyone’s behavior more than we like to think, but it’s true. So when it popped into my head, I said, “The girls are gonna be mad they didn’t come up with this first!”

What motivates and inspires you every day to get up and create?  

Pangelica: Being creative is a release for me. It keeps me sane. It’s healthcare.

SM: I always have to be doing something either visually or musically. I feel out of place when I don’t have opportunities to express myself in a non-academic way. 

SP: Spite. 

SM: Agreed. 

ZI: My daughter. 

Hormone. From left to right: Sienna Mahoney (bass), Stephen Peniston (guitar), Pangelica (lead vocals), Zach Inschol (drums). Photo credit: Schaun Champion.

These answers have been edited for clarity and length. 

Teri Henderson is the Arts and Culture Editor of Baltimore Beat. She is the author of the 2021 book Black Collagists. Previously, she was a staff writer for BmoreArt, gallery coordinator for Connect +...