Literally not metaphorically, that is, as part of a Sunday Herald photo shoot that took place in a private member's swimming pool in the west end of Glasgow.
At the time, the water theme seemed appropriate given that Allan, along with the rest of the band, had just spent the better part of a year living on the edge of the Pacific in a Santa Monica beach house at his record company's expense while writing and recording their second album, Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\.
This time when we meet, the setting is a little more refined. It's lunchtime in a nicely upholstered bar-restaurant in the city centre, and Allan is here without his fellow musicians in tow.
Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ didn't live up to Sony's expectations and, despite reaching the top 10 in the UK album charts, sold far fewer copies than Glasvegas's self-titled, Mercury-nominated, platinum-status debut. Band and label parted company but, as far as Allan was concerned, it was business as usual. He wrote the songs for a new album, produced it himself in his home town, and tomorrow it will be released by BMG, one of the world's largest music publishers.
A major record deal is nothing less than the new album deserves. As a long-time fan of the band, I've got to admit that I had to work harder at Later... When The TV Turns To Static than any other Glasvegas release, but I'm now convinced it contains some of the best and certainly the most complex writing Allan has ever attempted.
This latest succession of anguished anthems and tender insights is more lyrically daring than anything else in the same alt-rock ballpark. In the past, Allan has called his songs "poems"; personally I think they're more like four-minute plays, short scenes that are taut with raw emotion, with Allan effectively acting out a series of characters at crisis point.
"Maybe, to a certain extent," he agrees tentatively. "I think there's an essence to every song, and the essence I normally connect to is myself."
He searches around for an example, and lands on Geraldine, an early hit single from the first album. Before she became the band's manager, Allan's sister Denise was a social worker specialising in drug addiction, as was her friend Geraldine Lennon. One day he asked Geraldine what her job was like.
"And she said 'It's hard to describe, but when people come in, they've lost their sparkle'. And so the first line became 'When your sparkle evades your soul...' So when it gets to the part where I say 'I'll be the angel on your shoulder, my name is Geraldine, I'm your social worker', then I'm playing the part. But for the rest of the song, I'm basically saying in all these wee theatrical ways that I want to be there for you. So I can always connect. I'm always thinking about my own thing when I'm doing that, even if there is some other part I'm playing along the way."
This musical role-playing has confused some fans who expect every song to be autobiographical. No, James Allan hasn't been locked up in a young offenders institution (Polmont On My Mind); he's not currently caught up in a custody battle (All I Want Is My Baby, from the new album); and he didn't come out of the closet on the last album via a song called I Feel Wrong.
"There are a lot of people who don't understand that I'm only doing what I've always done, even when I was anonymous," he says of his immersive style of writing. "It's just that now there's an audience and a platform. And when there's an audience and a platform, do you start changing your instincts and the ways you want to express yourself? Do you alter that and make it fit with how big an audience you've got?"
Allan doesn't over-analyse such things. I've interviewed him several times, and he always comes across as someone who feels his way through a situation rather than thinks his way through it. It's why his answers, when put down on paper, sometimes look pretentious and airy-fairy when, face to face, they sound entirely honest and from the heart. Instinct is important; business plans are not. Consider, for example, his response when I ask him if he'd ever want to recapture those top-of-the-heap Santa Monica days, when cash support was flowing big time from the label's coffers.
"I don't really know if I think about it in those terms," he insists quietly. "It's been so amazing, but then also the other way - mad, confusing times - and I've embraced them all. It used to always surprise me in the early days how much people asked about the label, and it still does. The things I think about are inspiration and holding on to my own character, my own naive, wide-eyed, quite childlike and idiotic nature. I don't exhaust myself with those thoughts but, at the same time, it doesn't leave a lot of time to think about industry things and business things. I've never been that good at thinking about anything like that. I was terrible in class at school. And now when I go to a lawyer's office, I'm just like a child - I can't listen."
One thing that does seem clear to me about Glasvegas in 2013 is that, three full albums and one Christmas mini-album down the line, they're leaving a legacy in terms of how many up-and-coming Scottish bands are influenced by Allan's emotive vocal delivery and his cousin Rab's distorted guitar style. One upon a time you could listen to Glasvegas and point to a Jesus And Mary Chain wall of sound; now I listen to demos by unsigned bands and hear the Glasvegas style being customised by the next generation. Is Allan aware of this, and that he might be something of a local-boy-made-good role model for young musicians?
"I guess I'm aware that ..." He stops, pauses, tries again. "I feel like quite a lucky dude that maybe some kids come up and talk to me about the band or whatever, but I wouldn't really think of myself as being anybody who ... I don't know ... was in any of the ways you described. A lot of the time you only know your own wee world and you're quite cut off from the other things happening. I do feel my life's different, though, because it's obvious it's different: if I'm walking down Buchanan Street, some people will look at me then look away then look back. And when you walk up a street with people doing that all the way, it's something that I guess you get used to, but you never really get used to. I never grew up like that; it's quite unnatural.
"But I understand that being in a band is about having an audience and being on a platform. And when the kids do come up and talk to me, it would probably surprise a lot of them how much I see myself in them. You feel there's been some sort of distance, that you've moved [from your origins], but it's really not that far away from seeing yourself in a lot of them."
By recording Later... When The TV Turns To Static in Glasgow's Gorbals Studios rather than New York or Los Angeles, as had happened with the first two albums, Allan has in the past year spent more time in his home town than in the previous four years combined. Not that he was a complete stranger: he'd always managed, every couple of months, to spend a few days here, taking his customary night-time strolls through the city. And though he's not one to intellectualise these things, he does admit that by slowing down for a bit, he's had the chance to reflect on where the band have been, if not where they might be going next.
"You've probably heard people say this before," he adds, "but being in a band and touring is a very unnatural existence. Your bed is moving down the motorway every night if you're on a tour bus - that's not natural. You're always in motion; you're never still. And you're playing in these big rooms every night with a bunch of people you've never met before, a bunch of strangers who are there because they want to see into your world. At one point in your life, you'd never have been able to see ahead to a time when people would want to see into your world and understand the things you were trying to express. And that's also a really unnatural thing to experience every night.
"So when you come home, you don't come home being the same sort of person you were because different experiences have been shaping your mind in different ways. A lot of them are positive, because you're exposed to so many other people's ways and cultures. If anything, it makes your peripheral vision a bit wider and a bit less judgmental."
He looks around the room, an aura of calm around him, no need today for those obligatory rock-star sunglasses. "It's bizarre," he smiles, "and it's brilliant."