As we gear up for football season, we had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Tavarres King (TK) of the New York Giants. A Georgia native and Georgia Bulldog standout turned NFL wide receiver, and in our humble opinion, the most genuine guy on and off the gridiron, TK (@tavarresking) tells us about the "hard knocks" of training camp, his passion for giving back to the community and what he really wants in life.
Red’s: What pair of Red’s do you never leave home without and why?
TAVARRES KING (TK): My Favorite Pair of Reds Outfitters Sunglasses are the Rankin. Not only are they stylish, look amazing and sit comfortably on my head, but the feel is what got me. The thing I love most about the Rankin is that I can dress them up or down. Now that's Swag.
Red’s: What’s a day in the life like during training camp?
TK:An early morning wake up, about 7am. Then, I head to the facility for some breakfast and body maintenance. Next, we have meetings for a few hours, followed by practice for a few hours, then lunch and more meetings. Then there's a jog thru (light practice), weights, or soft tissue work. After that there's a break and dinner. More meetings follow dinner, and after the final meeting it's back to the hotel for bed check. Wake up the next day and hit repeat.
Now, I made that sound bland to give you the layout. But I left out the random mid-day locker room dance parties, jokes and all the fun that's had. I'm so blessed to be able to work in a highly competitive, high energy, fun environment.
Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life.
Red’s: What do you enjoy to do outside of football within the community?
TK: I'm pretty active in the community. I do hospital visits and charity events. I've been doing a lot with the kids. TK love the Kids! I spend a lot of time doing PLAY 60 events, which is awesome because we get to do fun activities with the kids, allowing and encouraging them to get out and be active.
My favorite thing I've done to date was a percentage night with Burberry and No Kid Hungry. That night was amazing because 20% of all the proceeds went to No Kid Hungry. We had a great crowd, a few teammates showed up, and it was just a really special evening all around! Show Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. Learn more and donate to help end child hunger.
Red’s: What cornerback do you admire most? What cornerback intimates you most?
TK: There are several corners’ games that I respect. But there are a few that I get to compete with on a daily basis – DRC, Jack Rabbit, and Eli Apple. I am fortunate to compete and go head-to-head with these guys everyday, because they truly make all of our wideouts and me better. As iron sharpens iron…
Red’s Two-minute drill with Tavarres King…
What’s your most memorable moment on the field? Scoring my first career Touchdown in an extremely historic place, "Lambeau Field", during a big moment in the NFC wildcard game.
Best time you’ve ever had in Athens? It's tough to generalize one moment out of a million great times I've had in Athens. But let's be clear, there is nothing like a Saturday between the Hedges.
What’s your go to song to listen to during pre-game warm-ups? It changes as music comes out; I listen to a wide variety of music but right now I'm banging that "21 Savage: Bank Account."
Who’s your favorite athlete of all time? The GOAT! Michael Jordan.
Describe your most embarrassing on camera moment? In 2013 playing in Denver, I caught a slant pass; then, spun back outside, ran up the sideline and got knocked out of bounds, but kept my feet. That is, until I got to the concrete… My cleats and the concrete weren't on the same page and I busted it! I look up and I'm over there by the cheerleaders, so I guess I didn't take too much of an L.
What’s your favorite place to relax? My favorite place to relax would have to be my man cave. But for true relaxation, the Dominican Republic.
What gets you out of bed every morning? I want to be the best Tavarres I can be. I want to be a champion. Not just on the field, but in life as well. I like success. It means everything to me to be a powerful positive presence for my family and loved ones.
Red's: We got to tell you...Red's loves TK.
(TK rocks Red's Iceman Aviators and Signature Hat)
Before hitting the road for the summer, NYC-based band VHS Collection sat down with Red's to talk about their influences, upcoming projects and the most ambitious tour they've ever played.
Red's: Tell us about the birthplace of the group.
VHS Collection: The band was born in New York. Conor and James grew up here and went to grade school together, I [Nils] was born here and went to high-school with James. We each pursued our individual musical interests passionately and played together whenever we could over the years. Then not too long ago we ended up back in New York at the right time to join forces and start this band and really make a run for it.
Red's: How has that place and other locations influenced you and your music?
VHS Collection: The city has definitely played a role. There’s no way not to be influenced by the incredible live music scene. Having access to and being exposed to such a wide variety of bands and genres shaped our musical sensibilities. I can’t tell you exactly how New York has influenced the music but its soul in there.
Red's: How would you describe your music?
VHS Collection: The music is really the center point on the Venn diagram of our respective musical tastes. It’s what drew us together in the first place. Growing up at the same time in the same city you can’t help but be exposed to the same music. We had a general discussion of the direction of the band in the very beginning, but it’s been much more of an organic process since then. It takes shape slowly and subtly as we play each other songs we’ve written and play new and old influences we're listening to.
Red's: What influences you creatively? Do you have a process?
VHS Collection: Our process has gotten more and more efficient over the last year or so. Generally we’ll have a month or so apart where we are each writing songs. Then we’ll head to the woods upstate and play everything we’ve come up with to each other. The best songs rise to the top, and we then spend a few weeks workshopping; improving lyrics and testing out production ideas until we end up with 15 or so demos that were really happy with. Then we send those around to producers we admire or would like to work with, see who gets back to us, go into the studio and bust them out!
Red's: How do you differentiate yourselves in a world where music is available anywhere and everywhere?
VHS Collection: We don’t set out to differentiate. We really just write and play the music that comes to us and that we like the best. It’s just a really lucky by product that our sound has been able to cut through the galaxy of music that is available at everyone's fingertips these days, and reach millions of people that seem to love it. Having almost 10mm plays on a single song is so encouraging for a new band like us and inspires us to push harder and keep improving.
Red's: Your Instagram (@vhscollection) informed us that y'all have been "Makin' Beats"? Care to elaborate...?
Last winter we were writing maniacally. We recently spent a month in London recording with Chris Zane (Passion Pit, St. Lucia) and left with 8 new songs we will be releasing over the next few months.
Red's: When can we expect the VHS album? What should we expect?
VHS Collection: We are releasing the full length album in the fall. It consists mostly of the songs we did in London plus a few others. The songs all hold together nicely as a body of work. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you may find yourself induced into mad fits of involuntarily dancing.
We’ll also be releasing select singles from the record in the coming months. The first single called “So I Met Someone” comes out this Thursday 5/25 on Spotify. We’re proud of this one so be sure to check it out and put it on repeat!
Red's: What was the inspiration behind the new material?
VHS Collection: We have been working hard on songwriting and production to stay true to our sound, but also evolve as much as possible.
Red's: What's the best way to gain access to your new music?
VHS Collection: We will be releasing all new tracks on Spotify and iTunes. Also we will be playing a few new songs on our upcoming tour in June.
Red's: How has the touring evolved for the band and each member personally?
VHS Collection: I think it’s safe to say all three of us love being on the road. Being able to explore the country has been great. We are legitimately surprised when we play a city we have never been to and people know the words! The shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Red's: What is your dream venue to play?
VHS Collection: (in unison) MSG
Red's: Tell us about your upcoming Summer Tour 2017?
VHS Collection: We're super pumped! This is the most ambitious tour we have ever played.
Red's: What should folks expect from the Summer Tour?
VHS Collection: Some ripping new tunes, big improvements to the old songs, and some trippy extended jams.
Red's: Do y'all have a set list in mind for the tour, or will the look change night to night?
VHS Collection: We have enough songs now where the setlist will ebb and flow with how we’re feeling that day.
Red's: Where can we see VHS next?
VHS Collection: We’ll be hitting these cities in June:
Thu 1-Jun Chicago, IL Chop Shop
Fri 2-Jun Pontiac, MI Pike Room
Sat 3-Jun Cincinnati, OH Bunbury Festival
Tue 6-Jun Seattle, WA Vera Project
Wed 7-Jun Portland, OR Lola's Room
Thu 8-Jun San Francisco, CA Café Du Nord
Sat 10-Jun Los Angeles, CA The Troubadour
Mon 12-Jun San Diego, CA Soda Bar
Sun 25-Jun Miami, FL
Thu 29-Jun New York, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
Red's: Any surprises we should keep an eye out for....?
VHS Collection: James will be wearing the same romper for the entire month of June.
Red's: Speaking of fashion, what is the best experience you’ve had while rocking a pair of Red’s?
VHS Collection: Onstage at Okeechobee festival in Florida. The three of us looked rad as shit in our Campbell, Rankin, and Tate frames. As the sun set over the everglades, more and more sun-baked festival goers flocked to our stage forming an endless sea of flags and lights and fist pumps. People were belting out the words, as we played the final songs under the stars, wearing our sunglasses at night.
Red's Quick Hits with VHS Collection….
Favorite LCD Soundsystem song? “Someone Great”
Favorite spot to surf? Point Dune, Malibu
Most memorable concert you’ve ever seen? Phish Radio City, 2000
Most memorable concert you’ve ever played? Bowery Ballroom to sold out crowd of friends.
The Stones or The Beatles? Beatles
What was the last song you listened to? “Emotion” by BORNS
Most important item on your Writer that you must have backstage? Lentils
Best place to get Dumplings in NYC? Formerly Prosperity Dumplings, a New York Icon that tragically burned to the ground. Now Vanessa's will have to do.
To kick off all our road trips, the fellas were kind enough to create a summer playlist for us. Enjoy!
Red's: How did you find out about Red’s? What’s your frame of choice?
Field: Trey Hanlan and I have a friendship that extends back close to 30 years, as our parents were friends from the town of Lincoln, Mass. We had the chance to reconnect somewhat recently and he introduced me to Red’s and the first pair I got my hands on – Campbell – is my preferred choice. The color is unique and frame shape is ideal.
Red's: What was it like growing up in the Greater Boston area?
Field: In some way, shape or form, my life has almost always revolved around sports. Since a young age, my intention was to work in sports, specifically in football. Boston has seen virtually unparalleled success amongst its four major sports teams in the past 15 years, but the passion of its fans extends back in eternity. The city has a deep emotional connection to its sports teams and that’s something I’m always grateful for.
Red's: You earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Wesleyan University. How did that lead to you becoming a NFL reporter for ESPN?
Field: To be honest, sort of by accident. I majored in psychology after taking an interest in it following some introduction-level courses, not because I intended to major in it long before I got to college. What I found was that it helped me understand people in a more nuanced manor. That’s something that I believe serves anyone well, regardless of professional field. Interpersonal skills apply to almost any walk of life and I believe studying psychology can enhance them.
Red's: What’s a day in the life like at ESPN? Is it just like those amazingly hilarious commercials…?
Field: Usually a mile a minute. The NFL is a wildly popular sport, so rarely does a day pass where we aren’t thinking about football. My morning consists of segments on SportsCenter and meetings to prepare for our afternoon NFL-based shows (NFL Insiders and NFL Live). In between, it’s staying on top of the news, checking social media for updated information and readying for the next story.
Red's: What makes a good story for you? Do you have certain criteria?
Field: I got into this line of work because of the game of football itself, but I understand that there’s much more involved: it’s a business. But the stories that still rev my engine the most are those that trace back to the gridiron: an unheralded player making a game-saving play, a last second catch to decide a contest. Moments that can be captured immediately but live on forever.
Red's: In the 365-day NFL media landscape, what components does an NFL reporter need to use to tell a strong story?
Field: A willingness to stay the course is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. Stories evolve. You can get close to reporting a story, but need one final source to feel fully confident and need to wait a while before receiving said confirmation. The news cycle is fast, but getting a story right and getting it in the proper context is still so key.
Red's: In your opinion, how has the meaning of the word “reporter” changed over the past year?
Field: While I’m not sure if it’s specific to just the last year, I do believe that the role of a reporter has morphed recently. People wants facts and information, but many also want opinions and conjecture on top of that. My job is not just to report, but, in some cases, also to take that information and opine, analyze, etc.
Red's: With the NFL Draft less than a week away, how do you see things shaping up for say the Falcons, Giants and Panthers and Pats? What holes does each team need to fill?
Field: Let’s break these down individually and try to keep it simple: Atlanta needs to add one more edge rusher to pair with Vic Beasley, New York needs to continue to bolster the offensive line and add a linebacker, the Panthers need backfield depth and receiver help, while the Patriots could target pass rusher or offensive tackle depth.
Red's: Who do you want access to and why? How do you gain access to those individuals and get the sources you want?
Field: It’s hard to say specifically who or what type of person I want to gain access to, but the most important part of relationship building for me is trust. Sources need to know that information can be shared confidentially and that not all information that is shared with me is information to be reported. Staying dedicated to displaying that trust is a goal of me each day.
Red's: Field Yates, you are officially on the clock....
Favorite sports team? Boston Red Sox.
Favorite athlete of all time? Muhammad Ali.
Favorite sports moment? Ohio State beating Miami in the 2003 BCS National Championship Game.
Most embarrassing on-camera moment? I’ve been bench pressed on national TV twice.
What gets you out of bed every morning? Recently, it’s been a desire to improve my mediocre golf game!
What’s your favorite place to relax? Nantucket.
Do you play Fantasy Football? Oh yes. Six or so leagues per year.
Thoughts on Deflategate...? Bill Belichick recently called it ridiculous. Allow me to agree with that assessment.
As founding members of Futurebirds, friends and kindred sprits Carter King (Cartezz) and Daniel Womack (Womz) have evolved as artists, musicians and men by becoming comfortable in their own skin and embracing the feeling of being stripped down and exposed on stage, igniting intimate experiences with their audiences, and intuitive grooves on stage and on the road with their fellow bandmates.
Red’s: How did the two of you meet? What made you want to make music together?
Cartezz:I met Womack at UGA. The first time I saw him, he had a big plastic bottle of liquor in his hand and a totally insane look in his eye. I thought, “There is no way I’ll ever be friends with this guy.” 12 years later, we’re friends and business partners. The only aspirations from a professional standpoint we had at the time were to play the 40 Watt Club. That was the peak of my rock-and-roll goals back then. If it ended there, I was cool with it.
Womz: Carter always wanted to start a band. I was all for it, even though at the time I couldn’t play much more than an E chord. We played a few shows under a different name with a different line up. After playing one terrible set, Carter decided to just end it. After we loaded out he grabbed me and told me that we were starting a new band, which would eventually be…Futurebirds.
Red’s: What got you involved in music the first place?
Womz: Well, I’ve always loved music. Who doesn’t? My older brother played guitar. I loved the way his hands looked when he played and I just wanted to know how to DO that. But he would never take the time to teach me. When I was a sophomore in high school, the boy’s quartet was going to be non-existent. I talked 3 of my friends into joining with me suggesting that it’d be hilarious and we’d get a day out of school to compete if nothing else. We were terrible but I loved it. I finally got a guitar when I was 16. After another buddy of mine taught me a few chords, I was addicted. I’m still addicted. I’ll know how to play it some day.
Cartezz: It goes back further than I can remember. Music was always around my household. My sister introduced me to the Grateful Dead at a young age. And I was really obsessed with getting a “gun-tar” when I was very little. I started playing trumpet first in the third grade, turned to the drums in fifth grade and finally got my hands on a Yamaha Stratocaster from Sam’s Club in sixth grade. Once I learned how to read tabs, it was all over.
Red’s: When did you write your first song? What inspired it?
Cartezz: I think it was seventh grade. My buddy Anderson and I would stay up all night, staying awake however we could, drawing weird pictures, playing music, and talking about all the big things we were going to do with our lives. Out of one of these nights came a little gem called, “Mexico” about running away to some small beach town on the coast of Mexico and meeting a beautiful woman—hopefully one that had an affinity for braces and khaki shorts. Then, over a decade later, I found myself one day, bummed out, a few doors down from his house where we dreamt all those big dreams, and I was still in the same damn place. The song ’Virginia Slims’ came pouring out of me right then and there.
Womz: The first song I ever wrote was about my girlfriend in pre-school. Her name was Mary-Lucy. I still remember the melody. It was actually pretty dark. In high school my friends and I would write these silly rap songs about teachers and current events and I’d beat box (perhaps some of my best work). But the first song Carter and I ever wrote was Dirty D about an old diesel truck I drove in high school. It was the first song-writing experience involving an actual instrument for me. I immediately bought a MacBook on credit, so I could record with GarageBand. Shortly after that, I wrote MJB, which was the first song I ever wrote on guitar. It was by inspired by my best friend getting kicked out of a Christian rehab.
Red’s: How has your songwriting evolved?
Cartezz: I feel like the music side of things always came way more naturally to me than the lyrical side of things. So in recent years, I’ve been trying to focus more on that. That means not settling for what works, but really pushing to make sure you are identifying and achieving, lyrically, what you mean to with a song. Sometimes the focus is on the flow; rhythm and phonetics, like a Bob Dylan type thing, where delivery is king and the meaning may be open to people’s own personal interpretations. Other times you have something you want to say in clear, plain English where there is no cryptic veil, like you’ll find in a lot of John Prine or old country songs.
Womz: It’s changed a lot and still is I think. I’d like to think I’ve gotten a lot better at music in general over the years. I’ve put in a whole lot of work! Maybe it’s in the way I think about putting words together. Keeping a consistent tone. It’s challenging. I have to work hard at it but I love it. There’s not a day that goes by, a moment really, where I’m not working on a song or thinking of making music in some way.
Red’s: How would describe your music-making process?
Cartezz: You can’t force it. That never works. You just always have to have that antenna up for whenever that thing, whatever it is, beams you a transmission. I remember writing the riff and first verse to Johnny Utah in Nashville while on our first tour. I was lying hungover on a friend’s couch. I recorded it to my phone before it vanished, as those things quickly do, and I was able to finish it later. You’ve just always got to be open to the inspiration.
Womz: Constant and always evolving. Mainly I try to stay honest. Gotta keep it real.
Red’s: What are you working on right now?
Womz: We released Portico I back in November of last year. We’ll be releasing the Portico II EP very soon. We were back in the Portico a few weeks ago recording demos for our next full-length record, which will be our fourth one. We’re very excited about it. We had such a blast working on them. Cant wait to get ‘em done and out there.
Cartezz: Doing the best work we can every damn day and night! We’ve got a lot of great things in the works right now that we are very excited about. A bunch of new recordings, and a bunch of new tour dates taking us out to the west coast next month.
Cartezz: We’re going out west in late April and May, which I am always excited about. We play shows in Missoula, Portland, Seattle, Bend then headed south to Santa Cruz and San Francisco, before making our way to LA. We’ve got a lot of dates in between too including a first-time stop in Sacramento, which I’m really excited about. I hear is beautiful this time of year…
Womz: Expect a good time and bring your dancing shoes!
Red’s: What inspired your recent string of intimate shows?
Cartezz: Playing in the super stripped-back fashion is just a really nice change of pace. Womz and I did a couple in California last year when we had some time off. They turned out way better than we could have hoped. It’s a completely different approach to performing. It’s exercising a different muscle that really makes us better performers, writers, and musicians. The energy is way more palpable between you and the audience. It’s a totally naked feeling that gives a real rush of adrenaline that’s just different from the rush of playing with the band. You have to embrace that vulnerability, throw your arms around it for better or worse and just hope people dig it.
Womz: We did a couple of these shows last fall out west and had such a good time doing them we decided to do more! It’s a great change of pace from touring with a full band….a lot more low key and in the moment. We get a chance to hang with folks and talk about songs. It’s more vocally centered. A little more focus on harmony and other subtleties. It was really good time for everyone.
Red’s: What do you turn to creatively outside of music?
Womz: Well inspiration can come at any time, and when it does, you gotta go with it. Too precious to put off! Everybody in my opinion is always seeking inspiration, whether they realize it or not. That feeling of connection and clarity - It’s moving. And making something of it, a song perhaps, is a very gratifying feeling. It’s worthy of the chase.
Cartezz: Life is all about inspiration. It’s that buzzing feeling you get in your fingertips when you’re out for an awesome drive in the country, or meeting that new person who you instantly feel like you’ve known all your life, it’s trusting yourself to set out into an abyss of uncertainty, and truly knowing that you’ll be better off on the other side. There’s a lot of inspiration, and clarity of vision, to be found out in the unknown.
Red’s: What influences your style?
Womz: Motion! I decided on the flag because I thought it’d be fun to whip around on stage and accent my movement. Kinda like my hair…ha.
Cartezz: There’s a whole boatload of things that influence my style. I try to keep it halfway respectable, halfway presentable, a hair outlandish, mostly comfortable. I’ve always been drawn to a great thrift-store find. I love the idea of a piece of clothing having a whole other life before its time with me, like we are just crossing paths for a bit, before it moves on to someone else after being left somewhere on tour, or indefinitely ‘borrowed’ by a friend. It’s like a good relationship or something…
Red’s: What are your musical icons/influences?
Womz: There are lots! When it comes down to it tho, I’d say all the obvious ones: Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. As I got older, I got more into the Dead, Gram Parsons, Flying Burrito Brothers.
Cartezz: Man that’s something I hate to put in a box, cuz it’s a pretty endless and fluid list. The Grateful Dead has been the longest and strongest influence; The Stones has been a long-running thread along with Pink Floyd. Those all came into my life at a very impressionable age.
Red’s: What’s the best way to gain access to your music?
Womz: Any digital media outlet, Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube, and always go to futurebirdsmusic.com our iTunes.
Cartezz: We’re at all your favorite music watering holes. But truly the best way to access our music is to come out to a show and experience it right alongside us.
Red’s: What are you listening to now?
Womz: Ryan Adams new record Prisoner.
Cartezz: Lambchop put out a new record that’s pretty amazing. Khraungbin’s record and Big Baby D.R.A.M. have been in heavy rotation too as of late. I also just recently discovered this guy Allan Wachs, who is amazing. It’s this awesome mid-70s hippy-swamp, bluegrassy/country thing. As much as people want to hate on the digital age, I discovered it on Spotify. It’s pretty insane to have almost every record ever at your fingertips…
Red’s: Any last words?
Womz: I hope to see everyone out there.
Cartezz: (Silence) Ha, no. That question sounds like I’m about to be shot by a firing squad.