A good drummer can keep a beat, but an awesome drummer has the ability to give a song feeling. They know how and when to throw ghost notes and up beats in the mix, all to make a groove, well...groove.
I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts
Ghost notes are just small little strikes played in between the dominant snare hits. These little notes can be played as single notes or even in a series of multiple notes. They give the groove a sense of feeling, help it flow, and fill some of the space in between. Sometimes you can't tell they're being played until they're not there at all, then you notice that they're gone.
These extra hits can help you keep time a little better as well as help you play "around" the click. If you notice in the example video, I purposely played around the click and not dead on. That gives the groove life instead of trying to robotically stay directly on the click. It's fine to give a groove a human sound while still maintaining the tempo.
Ups and Ahs
Another way to give your groove some feeling is playing some stronger notes on the up beat or the "ahs" in the 16th note count. (When you count 16th notes this way: 1-ee-and-ah, 2-ee-and-ah...) These hits can be softer or strong, depending on the mood of the song you're playing, but they're just another way to spice up the groove. Throwing some of the up beat hits in the mix will give options to your bassist to play around with as well.
In the video, I start off with playing a simple groove and then play the same groove with ghost notes. After those two I play it again, simple, but with the up beats. Lastly, I put it all together using ghost notes as well as the ups.
Don't Give Up the Ghost
Not every song calls for ghost notes or up beats. They both have their places and sometimes it's better to just play it simple on the 2 and 4. Ghost notes and up beats are just a few helpful techniques to keep in your drumming toolbox that will take you from a good drummer to an awesome one. Rock and roll!