Nichols, a longtime KEXP DJ, was arrested early on Sunday, July 11, for domestic violence and had just been released from King County Jail several hours before he was scheduled to go on the air. According to the police report, Nichols beat up his girlfriend and caused at least $500 in property damage at their West Seattle rental.
Nichols, whose real name is Matthew Garman, hosts KEXP's eclectic wee-hours pop-music show Tuesdays through Thursdays from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. He also landed a spot at the commercial KMTT (The Mountain) earlier this year. "I have another real part-time job which, while less 'hip' than this one, I am quite grateful for," he writes on his KEXP website bio, in which he also describes himself as an "indie-rock dork."
An exuberant local music fan, DJ Garman showcases homegrown acts such as Death Cab for Cutie, Jesse Sykes, and Ken Stringfellow--while mixing in indie plums like the Flaming Lips and alternative standards such as late-'70s DEVO.
Last Saturday night, Garman celebrated his 30th birthday at the Capitol Hill Arts Center's Lower Level Lounge, where he regularly curates a local-music showcase called, awfully enough, Local Battery. For his 30th, Garman rounded up some of his favorite local acts--the Capillaries, Valu-Pak, the Beautiful Sea--to play Beatles covers. The Stranger plugged the party in last week's listings, writing: "DJ Matt Nichols is turning 30 today (though he still looks like a teenager) and so has enlisted many of the bands he admires most in the city--bands he name checks and champions at the slightest opportunity with indefatigable airplay."
At the party, with nearly 100 people on hand, Garman "drank heavily" and argued with his longtime girlfriend, according to the police report. The quarrel escalated when the couple returned home to West Seattle. The police were called to the house at about 1:40 a.m. in response to a 911 call from Garman's girlfriend. The incident report, in which she describes the fight, is scary stuff. According to the report, Garman, who had fled the scene when the police arrived, split the bedroom doorjamb; broke the 4-by-6-foot front window; pushed his girlfriend into the bathroom, where she fell into the tub; and grabbed the phone from his girlfriend as she tried to call 911, "threw it on the floor... [and] kicked her in the chest and groin."
The report also says that Garman shoved his girlfriend onto the living-room floor, where she struck the back of her head. "She states that while she was lying on the floor the suspect picked up a flower pot and threw it at her head, but missed."
Garman's girlfriend was treated on the scene by fire department medics, but refused further medical attention, even though she complained about pain in her back and in the back of her head.
After taking Garman's girlfriend's account, the police--responding to a 911 call from a neighbor--found Garman loitering on the neighbor's porch. They arrested him without incident.
Garman spent Sunday and Monday in King County Jail. The city attorney is pursuing three charges--domestic violence assault, interfering with a domestic violence report, and property destruction. Garman's pre-trial hearing is scheduled for July 26.
Garman, who's laying low at "a friend's," doesn't have a lawyer yet, and would only say that he disputes some of the details of the police report. "There's far more to it than what's in that report," he says.
KEXP executive director Tom Mara was also reticent, saying simply that the station was "gathering the facts."
KMTT did not return our call by press time.
Domestic violence statistics are chilling. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only half of all domestic violence incidents are reported to the police. In nearly 20 percent of these cases, women did not report the incident because they feared reprisal by the perpetrator. Between 1997 and 2001, there were 184 domestic-violence-related homicides in Washington State, according to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The majority of these were women killed by their current or former husbands or boyfriends.