During his football career, Allan decided to write songs and form a band. After touring Scotland for several years Glasvegas released four singles, before eventually being signed to Columbia. His songs deal with social issues such as absentee fathers ("Daddy's Gone"), murder ("Flowers & Football Tops") and the challenges of social work ("Geraldine").
On 8 September 2009, bandmates Rab Allan and Paul Donoghue announced that James Allan had been missing since the previous Friday, which resulted in a no-show at the Mercury Prize awards ceremony. However he made a call to the band's manager on 9 September 2009 that he was safe and well in New York, where Glasvegas were about to embark upon a US tour supporting Kings of Leon. It is thought that the lack of communication sourced from Allan being without a mobile phone for six months, according to bandmates.