The idea of the band was born out of necessity; Reena Leigh Gibson had been writing songs since 1987 as an extension of her poetry writing when she was just 17, but having formed two previous bands in the early 90’s nothing came to fruition. She continued writing and moved forward with building her home recording studio which she built at her home in 1995. From there she re…corded further demos of her music and started working with other artists but finally took a break in 1997 from song writing altogether. In 2008 just 11 years later, Reena was slowly rediscovering her passion for writing and recording, this resulted in “Innocence” being written at the end of that year. By August 2010 it was self-released but with little success. A Christmas song that had been written by Reena in 1993 was revamped and released in October of 2010 in time for Christmas, this sadly though had very little success. Reena soon realized that the only way to push her music forward was to put a band together and perform live. Various ads for musicians were placed on the JoinMyBand website and after much debate with herself, it was decided from the various replies who should be a part of this new project and a meeting was finally arranged for the following new year…
On Saturday 29th January 2011 it all started to take shape and Reena’s dream that started 24 years previous was on its way to becoming a reality. During the initial first 6 months the band had seen some major changes. The final outcome was to see Reena on guitar & vocals, Kevin Turner on Bass, Paul Miller on guitar and drummer Phill Sproston being the final addition, Milestone Road was finally born.
The band had their very first gig at “The Hop Pole” in Bilston, Wolverhampton on Friday 4th November. It wasn’t a huge turnout; after all it was the very first gig so nothing much was expected from it other than having a good time and pushing the music and the band further outwards. However, they did return there for a second gig the following month to a much bigger crowd than before making them realize that they were finally starting to get somewhere.
Many more changes had taken place in 2012, guitarist Paul Miller decided two days after rehearsal to up sticks and leave in February, just one day before they were booked to appear at their first Battle Of The Bands and an all important and long awaited first gig at Eddies Rock Club in Birmingham the following night, with another Birmingham gig two weeks later. Unfortunately those gigs had to be cancelled and the hunt for a replacement guitarist was on its way.
Reena had felt for a long time that the band hadn’t been going quite to plan with regards to the original concept of an 80’s style rock band, the band were not just looking for a great new guitarist, but also someone to play keyboards too. After many weeks of auditioning Marko replied to an ad to be their keyboard player, Reena knew at the first audition that he was the right person for the job. In between all of that the band were also holding auditions for a new guitarist to replace Paul Miller. There were some they wanted and some they didn’t but none of them seemed to fit in just as they expected. Then Paul Anderson got in touch through another ad and joined them for what was Marko’s second audition, they both played together for the first time and Reena, Kev and Phill knew in that instant that the new sound they had was just what they were looking for and the music was eventually starting to come alive.
As a band they went from strength to strength, their first gig together with the new lineup was at the Saracens Head in Dudley playing to just two people. It was a bit of a letdown but they didn’t really care though, they were out doing what they loved the most and that was all that mattered. On the 8th of June it was much like a return home for Reena when the band played at the Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham, Reena had been there before in 1994 when she used to book bands to perform there and so it felt good to be back there again.
In October 2012 Reena decided it was time to tell the news to the band about a decision she had come to terms with four months previous, that for most of her life she had battled with Gender Dysphoria. The band got together at the next rehearsal and it was then that Reena decided to tell the band in person that she was ready to sacrifice her place as singer and guitarist in order for them to move forward. The band though rejected her offer to back down; telling her they were behind her 100% and that without her there would be no Milestone Road. Although pleased with the outcome, Reena was still very much unsure as to what the future was going to be like with her in the band. It was only after reading the story published in Rolling Stone magazine back in May 2012 about Laura Jane Grace of the band Against Me! that really gave Reena the determination to push forward and hope that one day, she will be fully accepted.
Moving forwards and onwards, on 14th November 2012 Milestone Road arrived at the Star & Garter in Burton On Trent on, it was a show that was hosted by XRP Radio who were running a three night event with 14 bands appearing. As Milestone Road it was their best gig ever and a night where they were really able to shine, the crowd loved them and for Reena it was like a dream come true…
Sad news was to follow, with busy personal lives and other commitments the band had found it difficult in making arrangements for everyone to meet up for future rehearsals, this left a huge 7 month gap between the last gig and the next rehearsal. So on Thursday 13th June 2013, and after being with the band for exactly 15 months, keyboard player Marko decided it was time to leave to follow his other musical projects. This was also followed by lead guitarist Paul Anderson who had somehow found it difficult in accepting the concept of Reena’s transition. After collecting their thoughts and much searching though, a replacement guitarist was soon found in the shape of Wayne Dorman. Wayne hooked up with the band just two weeks before the next gig that they had considered cancelling and the band were amazed at how quickly he got to know the songs. Sadly though, Wayne confessed he could only stay just long enough to help out until a full time permanent replacement was found.
The all important next gig came on June the 30th at the Party In The Park 2013; it was Milestone Road’s biggest crowd to date with well over a thousand people at the largest unsigned music festival outside of Leeds, Reading & Glastonbury. Wayne had only been with the band a very short time but played as though he’d been with them for years, a real credit to him.
It was after the Party In The Park gig that the band were soon to be joined with keyboard player Debbie Powell. Deb was asked to come to rehearsals before the gig but due to other commitments she couldn’t make it, although she did attend the Party In The Park gig and loved the sound of the band enough to want to join as their full time keyboard player.
More gigs soon followed soon after with the first of 2 charity gigs at The Hare & Hounds in Stourbridge for the West Midlands Air Ambulance & The Mitre in Stourbridge. Other gigs followed towards the end of 2013 with a music showcase hosted by Jacqui D’Arcy at The Banbury Club in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, The Actress & Bishop in Birmingham followed by the last gig of 2013 supporting Meat Loaf tribute band “Maet Loaf” at the Robin 2 in Bilston, Wolverhampton.
In June 2014 Reena decided it was time to move her transition forward to the next step and to start living full time as a woman and finally abandon her birth name, Roger Lee. During the weeks after, Reena felt that she was able to now move on with her life, more songs had been written for the band whilst they still searched for a new guitarist to replace Wayne who had since moved to Derby and could no longer help out with the band.
On July 9th 2014 the bands future had finally took a turning point, after a successful second audition with a prospective new guitarist they were finally joined by John Loveridge as the 5th and final member of the band. It was at this point they were finally able to move forward yet again and start getting new gigs planned.
In the meantime, a future booking handed to them for Derby Pride in September 2014 which would see Reena and the band appearing at their first ever Pride event and Wayne Dorman hopefully returning as a one off event as guitarist for the band playing alongside John.