If there is one thing Iwan Fals has to say about Independence Day and the 2009 election, it is that now is the time for young politicians to take over the country's leadership.
While acknowledging that announcing partiality in politics means he will upset some of his fans, among whom are perhaps big supporters of president hopeful Megawati Soekarnoputri or other "old politicians", Iwan said he believed that the transmission of power to the youth is indispensable for change.
"I have to say this, the presidential chair ideally belongs to those aged 35 to 45," Iwan told The Jakarta Post at his idyllic, serene residence about half an hour out of the capital.
Despite perceptions that Iwan, who now sings middle-of-the-road songs written by young songwriters like Pongky from Jikustik or Eros from Sheila on 7, seems to have softened and become apolitical, he admits that he could never be indifferent to politics.
He said political participation is inevitable and believes the fate of the country can only be changed if the people of Indonesia stand up and call for reform.
"If I do not participate in politics, I will be a victim, and so will my fans. The victims of the Lapindo mudflow, for instance, they are now hopeless, and they are the people who listen to my songs.
"If we choose the wrong person and get a crazy president, then it will be our own fault," he said.
Iwan is careful not to fall into practical politics by publicly announcing his support to certain political parties, most of which he said had similar policies and strategies.
"I'm just saying that we can no longer rely on the old generation. They must wisely step down and give way to the younger generation."
Although he would likely gain a large amount of support from his own fans if he runs for a legislative or even presidential seat, Iwan, 47, humbly said he was incapable of running a country.
He said he wonders whether the artists that are turning to politics are thinking the showbiz world is not industrious and frenzied enough that they have resorted to giving politics a try.
On Aug. 16, he will launch his new official website, iwanfals.co.id, through which he will distribute his new songs and be able to express his views on social and political issues without having to wait for an album release.
"A friend who knows a lot about digital technology asked me to write a song or two and he will help me digitally distribute them," he said, adding he found it hard to make a full album with ten tracks.
Since 1979, when he released his debut album Canda Dalam Nada (A Joke in Tunes), Iwan has produced more than 30 albums. His songs are memorable not only for their acoustic and balladic tunes, but for the strong lyrics and the messages conveyed.
His song "Wakil Rakyat" is a harsh, blatant critique against parliamentary members who kowtowed to the late Soeharto during the New Order era when the legislative body was virtually powerless and controlled by the iron-fisted leader.
His other songs, such as "Sore Tugu Pancoran", "Tante Lisa" and "Oemar Bakrie", vividly portray the prevailing social disparities and hypocrisy of the urban society. His lyrics are blunt and witty.
Iwan describes himself as a man of the streets -- which is why he is always associated with grassroots groups. Apart from politics, humanity is the main inspiration for his songs.
"The street is my home. I was brought up as a street musician and I lived there. You know, there are musicians that are categorized as musicians of the streets and there are those categorized as home musicians," he said, adding that staying at home was definitely not his passion.
Iwan was recently appointed as the brand ambassador of Indian motorcycle producer PT TVS Motor Indonesia, in the hope the cooperation could smooth the company's way back to the streets.
Iwan said he is upbeat that his cooperation with the company will not tarnish his image as an artist known for his integrity and independence.
"This is a very common thing, a normal trade. After all, to me this is not about business only ... the company and I happen to share common values, especially with regard to the environment.
"And it is actually my management that directly deals with all the business agreements. I just sing," he said.
His manager is his wife, Rossana, a stern businesswoman. Iwan now stages a concert once a month.
"I am not as busy as other musicians," he said, adding he wanted to start touring again and spend more time on the streets.
"When I was young, I really wanted to grow old. Now that I am old, I really want to be young again. This is what I feel right now."
He said retiring is not on his mind because, unlike politicians, age does not weaken the ability of musicians to play and produce good music.
"I want to go back to the street. Life is happiness and to me happiness is on the street. It keeps calling me."