"While the guys were busy sleeping with someone for the first time or smoking joints for the first time, I went to train," says former soccer player Lior Perla, 25.

He joined the "Poster Boys" band when he was 18 and within a short time scored success that he feels came "too big and too fast." The hit, "BaMehonit Sheli" ("In my car" ) played often on the radio and "we were even the warm-up for [veteran Israeli rock band] The Click during their first reunion tour," he says of something that at the time was to him inconceivable.

"We were scared by the success," Perla acknowledges. "The drummer and I were the only ones in the band who wanted music to be a way of life - the others didn't see being full-time musicians as their future."

Until about a year and a half ago, he was also the guitarist for the Taanei Esther band, which he helped found some four years ago but left when "the relationships among us got messed up after the first album's release," he says.

Now is preparing a concert to launch his first album "Tahat Shamayim Aforim," ("Under Gray Skies" ) on Sunday at Tel Aviv's Tmuna Theater with a guest appearance by Ehud Banai. He wrote the lyrics and composed the music for six of the album's eight songs. "We finished recording the album almost three years ago, but I was really busy with Taani Esther and also, I really didn't feel ready to release it then," he says.

Nearei Poster became known for lively indie pop guided by synthesizers. Taani Esther focuses on bright rock 'n' roll. "Now" he says, "the time has come for some more serious art. There's something childish about the earlier bands I played with."

It is therefore possible to understand his concern before he decided to release the album. It is the first time he is writing and performing songs not in order to get people to move.

Perla's "Tahat Shamayim Aforim" is what its name says - the opposite of the summery feel of Taani Esther or Nearei Poster's lively pop. The songs contain a precise degree of self-pity, enough to allow you to be moved without the need later on to mock yourself for doing so. The two other songs, "Sefer Shirai" ("Book of My Songs" ) and "Kol" ("Voice" ) were written by the poetess Rachel and Nathan Alterman.

How does it feel to move to center stage after having been a guitarist?

"In the band I was always more comfortable being on the side, letting loose on the guitar," he says. "I always felt more Keith Richards than Mick Jagger."

The album' musical producer is Asi Ben Simon, who worked with Gilad Kahana on the album released as "The Walking Man". He and Perla have been playing together for nearly a decade, despite the age difference between them (Perla is much younger ). "We'd spend whole nights in the Lev Ha'ir neighborhood. I would play classical while he would improvise on that," says Perla.

The good communication between them is clear. The album's production serves the main artist on it; it is minimalist but still with a lot of presence. Ben Simon also plays guitar on the album.

"He doesn't have some glorious record of albums he produced," says Perla of Ben Simon, adding "but it was completely clear to me that he was the one I'd work with."

The first single released, the excellent "Naomi," is the least catchy song on the album. But that did not stop it from being played frequently on Radio 88FM. Perla received additional confirmation from none other than Ehud Banai. "I just called him up," relates Perla of the connection that was formed. "I sent him my songs. He liked them and agreed to my suggestion to come to the album launch and perform with me," he says excitedly.

Other topics that occupy Perla in his songs are fear of abandonment ("Naomi" ) and early aging ("Tahat Shamayim Aforim" ). "From the age of six to 19, I was a soccer player. I even had a contract with the seniors, but I felt I was getting old at a time when I was meant to be child," he says.

"Like a soldier who is deserting and knows he has no friends in the world," he sings in "Ad Hasof" ("To The End" ).

Perla was found unfit to do military service and was discharged one day after he was drafted. He believes the IDF decided wisely when it noticed that he was in distress and suffering from anxiety and sent him to see a mental health officer. "I felt like a soldier who was running away from fears, from musings, from the world. I didn't know if I would be accepted back into the mainstream after that."